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4 s Reflected in His Briefer Letters and Speeches 





by H. Jack Lang 

These stirring words and thoughts of 
the Great Emancipator are today as 
much alive as when they first were 
written or uttered. The grave issues 
that confront us at present are no 
different from those Abraham Lincoln 
had to face. War and peace, democracy 
and slavery, tolerance and blind hatred 
— we, like Lincoln, must choose be- 
tween them. For those of us who dwell 
in doubt and confusion Lincoln's words 
on these critical issues ring with the 
clarity, vigor, and simplicity of truth. 

So amazingly applicable to present 
conditions are the Emancipator's ob- 
servations that the reader will find it 
difficult to believe they were meant for 
any time but our own. To fifth column- 
ists who paid lip-service to liberty but 
covertly plotted its assassination, to 
sincere conscientious objectors, to those 
who sought to shatter national unity, 
Lincoln spoke the truth and spoke it 
home. Always he placed his faith not 
in material resources but in the reso- 
lute spirit of the American people. 
"Gold is good in its place," said he, 
"but living, brave, patriotic men are 
better than gold." 

With malice toward none, with 
charity for all, Lincoln the man speaks 
to us from these pages. Writing to a 
spendthrift brother, a bereaved daugh- 
ter, or an angry general, he reveals his 
keen understanding of human nature. 
He can be firm as well as yielding: his 
letters embody a comprehensive study 
in the strategy of handling people. 

{Continued on back flap) 




the Class of 1901 

founded by 








Digitized by the Internet Archive 

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University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign 

The Wit and Wisdom of 

p L 

as Reflected in His Briefer Letters 
and Speeches 



Copyright 1941 by 
H. Jack Lang 

Manufactured in the United States of America 
by H. Wolff, New York 





Postmaster, Lawyer, Representative of the 

People (1832-1861) 


First Political Speech 


To George Spears 


To the Editor of the Sangamon 



To Robert Allen 


To Mary Owens 


To Mary Speed 


To Joshua F. Speed 


To William H. Herndon 


To William H. Herndon 


To Thomas Lincoln and John D 

. Johnston 


To Judge Stephen T. Logan 


To C. U. Schlater 


To Abraham Bale 


Notes For a Law Lecture 


To John D. Johnston 


To L. M. Hays 




To Joseph Gillespie 


To W. H. Henderson 


To Joshua F. Speed 


To R. P. Morgan 


To George P. Floyd 

5 1 

To Henry Walker Bishop 


To Julian M. Sturtevant 


To Stephen A. Douglas 


To Stephen A. Douglas 



To N. B. Judd 


To Henry Asbury 


Lincoln Autograph 


To H. L. Pierce and Others 


To a New York Firm 


To T. J. Pickett 


To Dr. Theodore Canisius 


To J. W. Fell 


To O. P. Hall, J. R. Fullenwider and U. F. 



Reply to Chicago Convention Committee 


To Charles C. Nott 


To George Ashmun 


To George Latham 


To Professor Gardner 


To William D.Kelly 


To Grace Bedell 


To William S. Speer 


To Alexander H. Stephens 

9 1 

Address at Springfield 


Address at Indianapolis 


Address at Philadelphia 


The President (1861-1865) 

To William H. Seward 


To William H. Seward 


To Leonard Swett 


To Major Robert Anderson 


To Gustavus V. Fox 


To Colonel Ellsworth's Parents 


To Major Ramsey 


To Edwin M. Stanton 


To Major-General Hunter 


To Edwin M. Stanton 


To George B. McClellan 



To John W. Crisfield 1 2 1 

To William H. Seward 123 

To Reverdy Johnson 125 

To August Belmont 128 

Note to Colonel Fielding 130 

To Horace Greeley 1 3 1 
Reply to Interdenominational Religious 

Committee 134 

To Hannibal Hamlin 141 

Speech at Frederick, Maryland 143 

Telegram to General George B. McClellan 144 

Telegram to General George B. McClellan 145 

To General Nathaniel P. Banks 147 

Telegram to Governor John A. Andrew 149 

To the Army of the Potomac 1 50 

To Fanny McCullough 152 

Final Emancipation Proclamation 154 

To General Samuel R. Curtis 159 

To "Fighting Joe" Hooker 162 

To Governor Horatio Seymour 165 

Telegram to "Fighting Joe" Hooker 167 

Telegram to General Daniel Tyler 169 

Speech Before the Treasury Building 170 

To General John M. Schofield 1 7 1 

Response to a Serenade 173 

To Ulysses S. Grant 176 

To General George G. Meade 1 78 

To General Oliver O. Howard 181 

To Postmaster-General Montgomery Blair 183 

To James C. Conkling 1 85 

To General William S. Rosecrans 193 
Telegram to J. K. Dubois and O. M. Hatch 195 

To O. M. Hatch and J. K. Dubois 196 

To Thurlow Weed 197 


To Montgomery Blair 


Letter Quoted by the Washington Star 


To James H. Hackett 


To Secretary-of-War Edwin M. Stanton 


Address at the Gettysburg National Cemetery 


To Edward Everett 


To General George G. Meade 


Indorsement on Document to Edwin M. 



To Salmon P. Chase 


To A. G. Hodges 


Address at Baltimore 


To Ulysses S. Grant 


To Edwin M. Stanton 


To William Cullen Bryant 


To Salmon P. Chase 


To Edwin M. Stanton 


Telegram to Ulysses S. Grant 


Secret Memorandum 


Address to the 148th Ohio Regiment 


To Eliza P. Gurney 


To Postmaster-General Montgomery Blair 


Response to Serenade 


To Mrs. Bixby 


To John Phillips 


Response to Serenade 


To William Tecumseh Sherman 


To Edwin M. Stanton 


To Ulysses S. Grant 


Reply to Congressional Committee 


Second Inaugural Address 


To Thurlow Weed 


Telegram to Ulysses S. Grant 


The President's Last, Shortest, and Best Speech 264 

[ viii ] 




All art does but consist in 
the removal of surplusage. 

—Walter Pater 

"The artist," said Schiller, "may be known rather 
by what he omits; and in literature, too, the true artist 
may be best recognized by his tact of omission." Abra- 
ham Lincoln exercised this "tact of omission" to an 
amazing degree. 

In the following pages an attempt has been made to 
collect, for the first time, Lincoln's masterpieces of 
brevity; the brevity which was not only the soul of his 
wit, but the sinew of his strength and the heart of his 

Lincoln, said the London Spectator, could never 
tolerate the tyranny of mere words, but always pressed 
through them to the reality beyond. When Lincoln 
spoke he was an orator, never an elocutionist. Said 
Robert G. Ingersoll, in drawing this distinction: 


"The elocutionists believe in the virtue of voice, 
the sublimity of syntax, the majesty of long 
sentences, and the genius of gesture. 

"The orator loves the real, the simple, the na- 
tural. He places the thought above all. He knows 
that the greatest ideas should be expressed in the 
shortest words— that the greatest statues need the 
least drapery." 

Lincoln's lessons in brevity began early. Everyone is 
familiar with the picture of gangling, young Abe, book 
in hand, stretched full-length before the fire, in his 
rough-hewn log-cabin. His first efforts at composition 
were written in charcoal, on the small area he was able 
to scrape clean on the back of a wood shovel. Paper was 
a precious commodity in the Lincoln household, and 
when young Abe was able to find a small scrap, he was 
forced "to cut his words close." 

What formal education he had was picked up in 
"blab schools," where all writing and reading were 
done out loud. Lincoln never gave up this habit of 
reading out loud as he wrote, and as William E. Barton 
observed, "His verbal precision came in part from his 
weighing the word, both the sense and the sound, as he 
wrote it." 

The subjects of Lincoln's study, as well as the manner, 
pointed toward a lucidity and conciseness of style. He 
formed a pattern of logic and clarity from his studies 

of Euclid and he drank deeply from the "Grand Sim- 
plicities of the Bible." 

His early legal training contributed, too. "In law," 
wrote Lincoln to Usher F. Linder, "it is a good policy 
never to plead what you need not, lest you oblige your- 
self to prove what you cannot/' Linder was the lawyer 
young Abe had once "let down" in a criminal case, by 
making a brief appeal when he was expected to make a 
very long one. "I shall never be old enough," said Lin- 
coln on this and many later occasions, "to speak without 
embarrassment when I have nothing to say." 

Throughout his whole life we find that brevity had 
an important influence on Lincoln. We learn, too, that 
it frequently served him as an evaluation of the merit 
of others. After reading one of the speeches General 
Grant had made to his army, Lincoln declared, "The 
modesty and brevity of that address shows that the 
officer issuing it ... is the man to command." 

When Henry Clay died in 1852 Lincoln said in his 

"Mr. Clay's eloquence did not consist, as many 
fine specimens of eloquence do, of types and figures, 
of antithesis and elegant arrangement of words and 
sentences, but rather of that deeply earnest and im- 
passioned tone and manner which can proceed only 
from great sincerity, and a thorough conviction in 
the speaker of the justice and importance of his 


cause. This it is that truly touches the chords of 
sympathy; and those who heard Mr. Clay never 
failed to be moved by it, or ever afterward forgot 
the impression. All his efforts were made for prac- 
tical effect. He never spoke merely to be heard." 
Having little of the magniloquent in his own nature 
Lincoln had little patience when he found it in others. 
When he read an unnecessarily long and verbose brief 
a lawyer had prepared, Lincoln remarked,— 'It's like 
the lazy preacher that used to write long sermons, and 
the explanation was, he got to writin' and was too lazy 
to stop." 

There are many incidents reminiscent of the great 
philosopher Pascal who once apologized to a friend for 
having written a twenty-page letter, saying that he had 
"no leisure to make it shorter." General Cameron, Lin- 
coln's first Secretary of War, wrote the President-Elect 
in 1860, "You may as well be getting your inaugural 
address ready, so as to have plenty of time to make it 

Even in formal state papers, Lincoln believed in 
saying what he had to say in the fewest possible words, 
without frills or ornamentation of any kind. "What a 
sharpshooter's bead he could draw in one sentence," 
said Carl Sandburg who related the story of one occa- 
sion when Secretary of State Seward suggested that Lin- 
coln's message to the British Prime Minister could be 


couched in more diplomatic terms, to befit that digni- 
tary's lofty station. Said Mr. Lincoln: 

"Mr. Secretary, do you suppose Palmerston will 
understand our position from my letter, just as 
it is?" 

"Certainly, Mr. President." 
"Do you suppose the London Times will?" 

"Do you suppose the average Englishman of 
affairs will?" 

"Certainly. It cannot be mistaken in England." 
"Do you suppose that a hackman on his box will 
understand it?" 

"Very readily, Mr. President." 
"Very well, Mr. Secretary, I guess we'll let her 
slide just as she is." 

There is evidence after evidence that brevity of style 
was not only inborn in Abraham Lincoln but that it 
was an objective which he assiduously pursued. He con- 
cluded a terse note to John Bennett by saying, "This is 
not a long letter but it contains the whole story." 

Lincoln's Wit and Wisdom makes fascinating read- 
ing because he was a master of the art of economizing 
your— the reader's— time. There is no extraneous verbi- 
age to cloud the light of his shining truths. The Cam- 
bridge History of American Literature's seventeen-page 
tribute to Lincoln's writings testifies that they will for- 


ever rank among the world's models of brevity. Their 
greatness is best summed up by Harriet Beecher Stowe: 
"We say of Lincoln's writing, that for all true, 
manly purposes of writing, there are passages in 
his state papers that could not be better put— they 
are absolutely perfect. They are brief, condensed, 
intense, and with a power of insight and expression 
which make them worthy to be inscribed in letters 
of gold." 


And when he fell in whirlwind, he went down 
As when a kingly cedar green with boughs, 
Goes down with a great shout upon the hills, 
And leaves a lonesome space against the sky. 

—Edwin Markham 

Abraham Lincoln left "a lonesome place against the 
sky," but his words live on because their ringing truths 
were not for the ears of his age alone. 

"I am little inclined to say anything unless I hope 
to produce some good by it," wrote Lincoln. It is be- 
cause of this determination that we find so much mean- 
ingful counsel compressed into every sentence he 
uttered or wrote. 


Lincoln's words were words of wisdom whether he 
was advising a faltering general, a shiftless stepbrother, 
an influential newspaper editor, or a young man 
struggling to make his way in the world. 

Lincoln, the lawyer, the father, the leader of his 
country, asked himself the same questions we are asking 
ourselves today. "What is Democracy?" queried Lin- 
coln and then proceeded to give an admirable definition 
in two short sentences. 

"Shall the liberties of this country be preserved?" 
wondered Lincoln and then told the assembled citizens 
of Indianapolis, "When the people rise in mass in be- 
half of the liberties of this country, truly it may be 
said, 'The gates of hell cannot prevail against them.' " 

"It has long been a grave question," observed Lin- 
coln on another occasion, "whether any government, 
not too strong for the liberties of its people, can be 
strong enough to maintain its existence in great emerg- 
encies." The answer Lincoln found not in material 
resources but in the resolute spirit of the American 
people. "Gold is good in its place, but living, brave, 
patriotic men are better than gold." 

So amazingly applicable to present conditions are the 
observations of Lincoln that we find it difficult to be- 
lieve they were uttered for any time but our own. Is it 
really Lincoln, and not a contemporary, who said that 
when the "Know-Nothings," who preached the doctrine 


of racial hatred, should come into control, "I shall pre- 
fer emigrating to some country where they make no 
pretense of loving liberty,— to Russia, for instance, 
where despotism can be taken pure, and without the 
base alloy of hypocrisy." 

Is Lincoln not speaking of our own fifth-columnists 
when he writes John W. Crisfield decrying the attitude 
of the courts in finding "a safe place for certain men to 
stand on the Constitution, whilst they should stab it 
in another place/' Again, when a minister used his 
pulpit to preach un-American doctrines, Lincoln in- 
structed General Curtis: "When an individual in a 
church or out of it becomes dangerous to the public 
interest, he must be checked; but let the churches, as 
such, take care of themselves. 

There is hardly a modern problem which Lincoln has 
not thought through for us with his great and good 
judgment. He recognized the "hard dilemma' ' which 
every conscientious objector and true pacifist faces, 
opposed as he is, "on principle and faith," to both war 
and oppression. In his inspired letter of September 4, 
1864 he answers this perplexing question not only for 
Eliza P. Gurney of the Quaker Society of Friends but 
for all conscientious objectors to come. 

Lincoln's wisdom is not only revealed in his judg- 
ments on the great issues of the day but in his counsel on 
everyday affairs. Lincoln was always a keen student of 


human psychology. His letters to his generals comprise 
a comprehensive study in the strategy of handling 
people. He knew just when to be firm and unyielding, 
when to praise or to censure, and when to be humbly 
apologetic to gain his end. 

In his famous letter to "Fighting Joe" Hooker, Lin- 
coln knew he could safely say, "I have heard, in such a 
way as to believe it, of your recently saying that both 
the army and the government needed a dictator. What 
I now ask of you is military success, and I will risk the 
dictatorship. " To the complaining General Hunter he 
admonished, "He who does something at the head of 
one Regiment, will eclipse him who does nothing at 
the head of a hundred." 

In a gentler vein he could chide General McClellan 
for his over-cautiousness and inaction, or write letters of 
encouragement and grateful appreciation. Most remark- 
able of his expressions of gratitude were those written 
not in appreciation of successes gained, but in dark 
hours of defeat, when he knew that his generals had 
exerted their best efforts. His letters to Gustavus Fox, 
who failed in his attempt to provision Fort Sumter; to 
General Meade, who failed to pursue his advantage after 
Gettysburg; and to the Army of the Potomac after their 
crushing defeat at Fredericksburg, best show Lincoln's 
sympathetic understanding. 

Among Lincoln's earlier writings we find many ex- 

[ xvii ] 

amples of his unfailing sense of humor— his * 'rat-hole" 
letter to a New York firm, his soap testimonial to Pro- 
fessor Gardner, his much-quoted letter to little Grace 
Bedell— to name just a few. It is a commentary on his 
greatness of spirit that in later years, even in times of 
most serious crises, his sense of humor never deserted 

Lincoln's instinctive faculty for finding the right 
word for every occasion makes his letters and speeches 
a source of inspiration and guidance for everyone. His 
letters of consolation are classic examples for all to fol- 
low—not only the famous note to Mrs. Bixby, but those 
to the parents of Colonel Ellsworth and to the daughter 
of Colonel McCullough. The same may be said of his 
letters of apology, acceptance, acknowledgment, and 
recommendation, for each is a perfect pattern of its 

[ xviii 3 



No collection of Lincoln's writings would be possible 
were it not for the "spade work" of those who ferreted 
out his precious documents from collectors' albums, 
dealers' shelves, newspaper morgues, and library and 
government archives. The first seven important works 
listed below— upon which this editor has drawn heavily 
—include virtually all of Lincoln's known writings. A 
debt of gratitude is due to: Dr. Louis A. Warren, Di- 
rector, and M. A. Cook, Librarian, of The Lincoln Na- 
tional Life Foundation, for supplying a number of 
items hitherto unpublished in any of these standard 
works; Paul M. Angle, Librarian of The Illinois State 
Library in Springfield, for rendering needed assistance 
in checking the authenticity of certain letters and 
speeches included in this selection; Carl W. Schaefer, 
Cleveland lawyer and trustee of The Lincoln Memorial 
University, for offering helpful suggestions. 

Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln (12 volumes). 
Edited by John G. Nicolay and John Hay. Tandy- 
Gettysburg Edition. 


Uncollected Letters of Abraham Lincoln. By Gilbert A. 

Tracy. Houghton Mifflin Company. 
Abraham Lincoln, A New Portrait, (2 volumes). By 

Emanuel Hertz. Horace Liveright, Inc. 
New Letters and Papers of Lincoln. Compiled by Paul 

M. Angle. Houghton Mifflin Company. 
Lincoln Letters, Hitherto Unpublished, In The Library 

of Brown University. The University Library. 
Abraham Lincoln, The Prairie Years (2 volumes). By 

Carl Sandburg. Harcourt, Brace & Company. 
Abraham Lincoln, The War Years (4 volumes). By 

Carl Sandburg. Harcourt, Brace & Company. 
The Real Lincoln. By Jesse W. Weik. Houghton Mifflin 

Abraham Lincoln and The Hooker Letter. By William 

E. Barton. The Bowling Green Press. 
The Life and Writings of Abraham Lincoln. By Philip 

Van Doren Stern. Random House. 



". . . short and sweet li\e the old woman s dance" 



'INCOLN'S first political speech, as later remembered by 
his friend A. Y. Ellis, was the very essence of brevity. It won 
respect for Young Abe but not the election— the only time he 
ever was defeated by popular vote. 




I presume you all know who I am. I am 
humble Abraham Lincoln. I have been solicited 
by many friends to become a candidate for the 
Legislature. My politics are short and sweet, like 
the old woman's dance. I am in favor of a national 
bank. I am in favor of the internal improvement 
system, and a high protective tariff. These are my 
sentiments and political principles. If elected, I 
shall be thankful: if not it will be all the same. 


Lincoln — The Postmaster 



N 1833 Lincoln served as postmaster of the small town of 
New Salem. He accepted this federal post, which none of his 
fellow townsmen wanted, so that he could read the newspa- 
pers. These pointed words were addressed to a publisher who 
demanded a postage receipt. 


Circa 1833 



At your request I send you a receipt for 
the postage on your paper. I am somewhat sur- 
prised at your request. I will, however, comply 
with it. The law requires Newspaper postage to 
be paid in advance, and now that I have waited a 
full year you choose to wound my feelings by in- 
sinuating that unless you get a receipt I will prob- 
ably make you pay it again. 


A. Lincoln 

Young Abe "Shows His Hand" 



N 1836 Lincoln again ran for the State Legislature and once 
more stated his platform in the fewest possible words. This 
time he was elected by a comfortable majority. 


New Salem, June 13, 1836 

In your paper of last Saturday I see a 
communication, over the signature of "Many Vo- 
ters," in which the candidates who are announced 
in the "Journal" are called upon to "show their 
hands." Agreed. Here's mine. 

I go for all sharing the privileges of the govern- 
ment who assist in bearing its burdens. Conse- 
quently, I go for admitting all whites to the right 
of suffrage who pay taxes or bear arms (by no 
means excluding females). 


If elected, I shall consider the whole people of 
Sangamon my constituents, as well those that op- 
pose as those that support me. 

While acting as their representative, I shall be 
governed by their will on all subjects upon which 
I have the means of knowing what their will is; 
and upon all others, I shall do what my own judg- 
ment teaches me will best advance their interests. 
Whether elected or not, I go for distributing the 
proceeds of the sales of the public lands to the 
several States, to enable our State, in common with 
others, to dig canals and construct railroads with- 
out borrowing money and paying the interest 
on it. 

If alive on the first Monday in November, I 
shall vote for Hugh L. White for President. 

Very respectfully, 

A. Lincoln 



let the worst come" 


HEN Colonel Robert Allen, opposing candidate for 
the Illinois Legislature, hinted that he "knew unspeakable 
things" about Lincoln and his running-mate, Lincoln chal- 
lenged him to tell all. 


New Salem, June 21, 1836 



I am told that during my absence last 
week you passed through this place, and stated 
publicly that you were in possession of a fact or 
facts which, if known to the public, would entirely 
destroy the prospects of N. W. Edwards and my- 
self at the ensuing election; but that, through 
favor to us, you should forbear to divulge them. 
No one has needed favors more than I, and, gen- 
erally, few have been less unwilling to accept 
them; but in this case favor to me would be in- 


justice to the public, and therefore I must beg 
your pardon for declining it. That I once had the 
confidence of the people of Sangamon, is suffi- 
ciently evident; and if I have since done anything, 
either by design or misadventure, which if known 
would subject me to a forfeiture of that confi- 
dence, he that knows of that thing, and conceals 
it, is a traitor to his country's interest. 

I find myself wholly unable to form any con- 
jecture of what fact or facts, real or supposed, you 
spoke; but my opinion of your veracity will not 
permit me for a moment to doubt that you at least 
believed what you said. I am flattered with the 
personal regard you manifested for me; but I do 
hope that, on more mature reflection, you will 
view the public interest as a paramount considera- 
tion, and therefore determine to let the worst 
come. I here assure you that the candid statement 
of facts on your part, however low it may sink me, 
shall never break the tie of personal friendship 
between us. I wish an answer to this, and you are 
at liberty to publish both, if you choose. 

Very respectfully, 

A. Lincoln 



'Whatever woman may cast her lot with mine. . . ." 



EW men have survived more bitter disappointments than 
did Abraham Lincoln. The one that nearly spelled his un- 
doing was the death of Ann Rutledge in 1835. This great loss 
resulted in Lincoln's hypochondria and many impulsive re- 
actions including his courting of Miss Mary Owens. We 
probably never shall know whether the realization that he 
was not truly in love or whether caution and a sense of fair- 
ness prompted this letter. 


Springfield, May 7, 1837 

I have commenced two letters to send 
you before this, both of which displeased me be- 
fore I got half done, and so I tore them up. The 
first I thought was not serious enough, and the 
second was on the other extreme. I shall send this, 
turn out as it may. 


This thing of living in Springfield is rather a 
dull business, after all; at least it is to me. I am 
quite as lonesome here as I ever was anywhere in 
my life. I have been spoken to by but one woman 
since I have been here, and should not have been 
by her if she could have avoided it. I've never 
been to church yet, and probably shall not be 
soon. I stay away because I am conscious I should 
not know how to behave myself. 

I am often thinking of what we said about your 
coming to live at Springfield. I am afraid you 
would not be satisfied. There is a great deal of 
flourishing about in carriages here, which it would 
be your doom to see without sharing it. You 
would have to be poor, without the means of hid- 
ing your poverty. Do you believe you could bear 
that patiently? Whatever woman may cast her lot 
with mine, should any ever do so, it is my inten- 
tion to do all in my power to make her happy and 
contented; and there is nothing I can imagine 
that would make me more unhappy than to fail 
in the effort. I know I should be much happier 
with you than the way I am, provided I saw no 
signs of discontent in you. What you have said 
to me may have been in the way of jest, or I may 
have misunderstood it. If so, then let it be for- 
gotten; if otherwise, I much wish you would think 


seriously before you decide. What I have said I 
will most positively abide by, provided you wish 
it. My opinion is that you had better not do it. 
You have not been accustomed to hardship, and 
it may be more severe than you now imagine. I 
know you are capable of thinking correctly on 
any subject, and if you deliberate maturely upon 
this before you decide, then I am willing to abide 
your decision. 

You must write me a good long letter after you 
get this. You have nothing else to do, and though 
it might not seem interesting to you after you had 
written it, it would be a good deal of company to 
me in this "busy wilderness." Tell your sister I 
don't want to hear any more about selling out and 
moving. That gives me the "hypo" whenever I 
think of it. 

Yours, etc., 




". . . \i\e so many fish upon a trotline" 



ETURNING from a visit to Kentucky, Lincoln writes to 
the sister of his friend "Josh" Speed, giving news of her 
brother's health and a vivid word picture of slaves being 
transported south. 


Bloomington, 111., September 27, 1841 

Having resolved to write to some of 
your mother's family, and not having the express 
permission of anyone of them to do so, I have had 
some little difficulty in determining on which to 
inflict the task of reading what I now feel must be 
a most dull and silly letter; but when I remem- 
bered that you and I were something of cronies 
while I was at Farmington, and that while there 
I was under the necessity of shutting you up in a 


room to prevent your committing an assault and 
battery upon me, I instantly decided that you 
should be the devoted one. I assume that you have 
not heard from Joshua and myself since we left, 
because I think it doubtful whether he has writ- 
ten. You remember there was some uneasiness 
about Joshua's health when we left. That little 
indisposition of his turned out to be nothing seri- 
ous, and it was pretty nearly forgotten when we 
reached Springfield. We got on board the steam- 
boat Lebanon in the locks of the canal, about 
twelve o'clock M. of the day we left, and reached 
St. Louis the next Monday at 8 P. M. Nothing of 
interest happened during the passage, except the 
vexatious delays occasioned by the sand-bars be 
thought interesting. By the way, a fine example 
was presented on board the boat for contemplat- 
ing the effect of condition upon human happiness. 
A gentleman had purchased twelve negroes in dif- 
ferent parts of Kentucky, and was taking them to 
a farm in the South. They were chained six and 
six together. A small iron clevis was around the 
left wrist of each, and this was fastened to the main 
chain by a shorter one, at a convenient distance 
from the others, so that the negroes were strung 
together precisely like so many fish upon a trot- 
line. In this condition they were being separated 


forever from the scenes of their childhood, their 
friends, their fathers and mothers, and brothers 
and sisters, and many of them from their wives 
and children, and going into perpetual slavery, 
where the lash of the master is proverbially more 
ruthless and unrelenting than any other where; 
and yet amid all these distressing circumstances, 
as we would think them, they were the most cheer- 
ful and apparently happy creatures on board. One 
whose offense for which he had been sold was an 
over-fondness for his wife, played the fiddle almost 
continually, and the others danced, sang, cracked 
jokes, and played various games with cards from 
day to day. How true it is that "God tempers the 
wind to the shorn lamb," or in other words, that 
he renders the worst of human conditions toler- 
able, while he permits the best to be nothing bet- 
ter than tolerable. To return to the narrative. 
When we reached Springfield, I stayed but one 
day, when I started on this tedious circuit where 
I now am. Do you remember my going to the city, 
while I was in Kentucky, to have a tooth extracted, 
and making a failure of it? Well, that same old 
tooth got to paining me so much that about a 
week since I had it torn out, bringing with it a bit 
of the jaw-bone, the consequence of which is that 


my mouth is now so sore that I can neither talk 
nor eat. 

I am literally "subsisting on savory remem- 
brances"— that is, being unable to eat, I am living 
upon the remembrance of the delicious dishes of 
peaches and cream we used to have at your house. 
When we left, Miss Fanny Henning was owing 
you a visit, as I understood. Has she paid it yet? 
If she has, are you not convinced that she is one 
of the sweetest girls in the world? There is but 
one thing about her, so far as I could perceive, 
that I would have otherwise than as it is— that is, 
something of a tendency to melancholy. This, let 
it be observed, is a misfortune, not a fault. 

Give her an assurance of my very highest regard 
when you see her. Is little Siss Eliza Davis at your 
house yet? If she is, kiss her "o'er and o'er again" 
for me. 

Tell your mother that I have not got her "pres- 
ent" (an "Oxford" Bible) with me, but I intend 
to read it regularly when I return home. I doubt 
not that it is really, as she says, the best cure for 
the blues, could one but take it according to the 
truth. Give my respects to all your sisters (includ- 
ing Aunt Emma) and brothers. Tell Mrs. Peay, of 
whose happy face I shall long retain a pleasant 


remembrance, that I have been trying to think of 
a name for her homestead, but as yet cannot sat- 
isfy myself with one. I shall be very happy to re- 
ceive a line from you soon after you receive this, 
and in case you choose to favor me with one, ad- 
dress it to Charleston, Coles County, 111., as I shall 
be there about the time to receive it. Your sincere 

A. Lincoln 



". . . groomsman to a man that has cut him out. . 



r INCOLN'S first efforts toward election to Congress ended 
in disappointment. The Whigs determined upon his friend 
Edxuard D. Baker and then, somewhat ironically, elected Lincoln 
a delegate with instructions to vote for Baker. 


Springfield, March 24, 1843 


. . . We had a meeting of the Whigs of 
the county here on last Monday to appoint delegates 
to a district convention; and Baker beat me, and 
got the delegation instructed to go for him. The 
meeting, in spite of my attempt to decline it, ap- 
pointed me one of the delegates; so that in get- 
ting Baker the nomination I shall be fixed a good 
deal like a fellow who is made a groomsman to a 
man that has cut him out and is marrying his own 
dear "gal." About the prospects of your having a 
namesake at our town, can't say exactly yet. 

A. Lincoln 



'As to s]peech'ma\ing. 


OHORTLY after he had taken his seat in Congress, Lincoln 
wrote home to Billy Herndon, his young law partner, con- 
fessing mild stage fright in addressing the House and dis- 
cussing his aspirations to a second term. 


Washington, January 8, 1848 

Your letter of December 27 was re- 
ceived a day or two ago. I am much obliged to 
you for the trouble you have taken, and promise 
to take in my little business there. As to speech- 
making, by way of getting the hang of the House 
I made a little speech two or three days ago on a 
post-office question of no general interest. I find 
speaking here and elsewhere about the same thing. 
I was about as badly scared, and no worse, as I am 


when I speak in court. I expect to make one 
within a week or two, in which I hope to succeed 
well enough to wish you to see it. 

It is very pleasant to learn from you that there 
are some who desire that I should be reelected. I 
most heartily thank them for their kind partiality; 
and I can say, as Mr. Clay said of the annexation 
of Texas, that ' 'personally I would not object" to 
a reelection, although I thought at the time, and 
still think, it would be quite as well for me to re- 
turn to the law at the end of a single term. I made 
the declaration that I would not be a candidate 
again, more from a wish to deal fairly with others, 
to keep peace among our friends, and to keep the 
district from going to the enemy, than for any 
cause personal to myself; so that, if it should so 
happen that nobody else wishes to be elected, I 
could not refuse the people the right of sending 
me again. But to enter myself as a competitor of 
others, or to authorize anyone so to enter me, is 
what my word and honor forbid. 

I got some letters intimating a probability of so 
much difficulty amongst our friends as to lose us 
the district; but I remember such letters were 
written to Baker when my own case was under 
consideration, and I trust there is no more ground 


for such apprehension now than there was then. 
Remember I am always glad to receive a letter 
from you. 

Most truly your friend, 

A. Lincoln 



"the very best speech ... I ever heard." 

JT OR myself/' said Alexander Stephens in a speech before 
Congress, "I can only say, if the last funeral pile of liberty 
were lighted, I would mount it and expire in its flames before 
I would be coerced by any power, however great and strong, 
to sell or surrender the land of my home." These words, from 
the man who became vice president of the Confederacy, we 
find echoed in Lincoln's own speeches of later years. 


Washington, February 2, 1848 



I just take my pen to say that Mr. 
Stephens, of Georgia, a little, slim, pale-faced, con- 
sumptive man, with a voice like Logan's, has just 
concluded the very best speech of an hour's length 
I ever heard. My old withered dry eyes are full of 
tears yet. 


If he writes it out anything like he delivered it s 
our people shall see a good many copies of it. 

Yours truly, 

A. Lincoln 



". . . I do not mean to be un\ind to you." 



N one and the same sheet of paper Lincoln grants his 
father's request for $20 with a bit of good-natured chiding: 
and then refuses a larger amount to his step-brother, John D. 
Johnston, who was considering the possibility of supporting a 
wife, although a poor hand at providing for himself. 


Washington, December 24, 1848 

Your letter of the 7th was received 
night before last. I very cheerfully send you the 
twenty dollars, which sum you say is necessary to 
save your land from sale. It is singular that you 
should have forgotten a judgment against you; 
and it is more singular that the plaintiff should 
have let you forget it so long, particularly as I 


suppose you always had property enough to sat- 
isfy a judgment of that amount. Before you pay it, 
it would be well to be sure you have not paid, or 
at least that you cannot prove that you have paid 

Give my love to mother and all the connections. 
Affectionately your son, 

A. Lincoln 

Your request for eighty dollars I do not 
think it best to comply with now. At the various 
times when I have helped you a little you have 
said to me, "We can get along very well now;" 
but in a very short time I find you in the same 
difficulty again. Now, this can only happen by 
some defect in your conduct. What that defect is, 
I think I know. You are not lazy, and still you are 
an idler. I doubt whether, since I saw you, you 
have done a good whole day's work in any one 
day. You do not very much dislike to work, and 
still you do not work much, merely because it does 
not seem to you that you could get much for it. 
This habit of uselessly wasting time is the whole 
difficulty; it is vastly important to you, and still 
more so to your children, that you should break 


the habit. It is more important to them, because 
they have longer to live, and can keep out of an 
idle habit before they are in it, easier than they 
can get out after they are in. 

You are now in need of some money; and what 
I propose is, that you shall go to work, "tooth 
and nail," for somebody who will give you money 
for it. Let father and your boys take charge of 
your things at home, prepare for a crop, and make 
a crop, and you go to work for the best money 
wages, or in discharge of any debt you owe, that 
you can get; and, to secure you a fair reward for 
your labor, I now promise you, that for every 
dollar you will, between this and the first of May, 
get for your own labor, either in money or as 
your own indebtedness, I will then give you one 
other dollar. By this, if you hire yourself at ten 
dollars a month, from me you will get ten more, 
making twenty dollars a month for your work. In 
this I do not mean you shall go off to St. Louis, 
or the lead mines, or the gold mines in California, 
but I mean for you to go at it for the best wages 
you can get close to home in Coles County. Now, 
if you will do this, you will be soon out of debt, 
and, what is better, you will have a habit that will 
keep you from getting in debt again. But, if I 
should now clear you out of debt, next year you 


would be just as deep in as ever. You say you 
would almost give your place in heaven for sev- 
enty or eighty dollars. Then you value your place 
in heaven very cheap, for I am sure you can, with 
the offer I make, get the seventy or eighty dollars 
for four or five months' work. You say if I will 
furnish you the money you will deed me the land, 
and, if you don't pay the money back, you will 
deliver possession. Nonsense! If you can't now 
live with the land, how will you then live without 
it? You have always been kind to me, and I do 
not mean to be unkind to you. On the contrary, 
if you will but follow my advice, you will find it 
worth more than eighty times eighty dollars to 

Affectionately your brother, 

A. Lincoln 



". . . smarter than he loo\s to be. 91 



YOUNG man by the name of Jonathan Birch, applying 
for admission to the bar, was given this note which said little 
but told much to Judge Logan, a co-member of the examining 


The bearer of this is a young man who 
thinks he can be a lawyer. Examine him if you 
want to. I have done so and am satisfied. He's a 
good deal smarter than he looks to be. 





"I am not a very sentimental man. . . ." 



ITTLE suspecting that he would someday be besieged by 
autograph seekers, Lincoln couldn't understand why anyone 
should want his signature. 


Washington, Jan. 5, 1849 



Your note, requesting my 'signature 
with a sentiment' was received, and should have 
been answered long since, but that it was mislaid. 
I am not a very sentimental man; and the best 
sentiment I can think of is, that if you collect the 
signatures of all persons who are no less distin- 
guished than I, you will have a very undistinguish- 
ing mass of names. 

Yours respectfully, 

A. Lincoln 


". . . and than\ you to boot.' 1 



N Lincoln's law dealings, his sense of fairness always pre- 
vailed over considerations of fee. What a surprised client 
Abraham Bale must have been upon opening this note from 
his lawyer. 


Springfield, Feb. 22, 1850 




I understand Mr. Hickox will go, or 
send to Petersburg tomorrow, for the purpose of 
meeting you to settle the difficulty about the 
wheat. I sincerely hope you will settle it. I think 
you can if you will, for I have always found Mr. 
Hickox a fair man in his dealings. If you settle, 
I will charge nothing for what I have done, and 


thank you to boot. By settling, you will most 
likely get your money sooner and with much less 
trouble and expense. 

Yours truly, 

A. Lincoln 


^ vwvvvvvvvvvlvvvvvw ^ VWVVVVVVVVVV vvvivv^^ 

"if . . . you cannot be an honest lawyer, 
resolve to be honest without being a lawyer" 



HIS "Lawyer's Creed" was prepared by Lincoln for a con- 
templated lecture. The ideals expressed make it worthy of 
inscription on the walls of every law office. That Lincoln 
practiced what he preached is clearly indicated by many of 
his letters in this collection. 


Circa July, 1850 

I AM not an accomplished lawyer. I find quite 
as much material for a lecture in those points 
wherein I have failed, as in those wherein I have 
been moderately successful. The leading rule for 
the lawyer, as for the man of every other calling, 
is diligence. Leave nothing for to-morrow which 
can be done to-day. Never let your correspondence 
fall behind. Whatever piece of business you have 


in hand, before stopping, do all the labor pertain- 
ing to it which can then be done. When you 
bring a common-law suit, if you have the facts 
for doing so, write the declaration at once. If a 
law point be involved, examine the books, and 
note the authority you rely on upon the declara- 
tion itself, where you are sure to find it when 
wanted. The same of defenses and pleas. In busi- 
ness not likely to be litigated,— ordinary collection 
cases, foreclosures, partitions, and the like,— make 
all examinations of titles, and note them, and 
even draft orders and decrees in advance. This 
course has a triple advantage; it avoids omissions 
and neglect, saves your labor when once done, 
performs the labor out of court when you have 
leisure, rather than in court when you have not. 
Extemporaneous speaking should be practised and 
cultivated. It is the lawyer's avenue to the public. 
However able and faithful he may be in other 
respects, people are slow to bring him business 
if he cannot make a speech. And yet there is not a 
more fatal error to young lawyers than relying 
too much on speech-making. If any one, upon his 
rare powers of speaking, shall claim an exemption 
from the drudgery of the law, his case is a failure 
in advance. 

Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors 


to compromise whenever you can. Point out to 
them how the nominal winner is often a real loser 
—in fees, expenses, and waste of time. As a peace- 
maker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of 
being a good man. There will still be business 

Never stir up litigation. A worse man can 
scarcely be found than one who does this. Who 
can be more nearly a fiend than he who habitually 
overhauls the register of deeds in search of defects 
in titles, whereon to stir up strife, and put money 
in his pocket? A moral tone ought to be infused 
into the profession which should drive such men 
out of it. 

The matter of fees is important, far beyond the 
mere question of bread and butter involved. Prop- 
erly attended to, fuller justice is done to both 
lawyer and client. An exorbitant fee should never 
be claimed. As a general rule never take your 
whole fee in advance, nor any more than a small 
retainer. When fully paid beforehand, you are 
more than a common mortal if you can feel the 
same interest in the case, as if something was still 
in prospect for you, as well as for your client. And 
when you lack interest in the case the job will 
very likely lack skill and diligence in the perform- 
ance. Settle the amount of fee and take a note in 


advance. Then you will feel that you are working 
for something, and you are sure to do your work 
faithfully and well. Never sell a fee note— at least 
not before the consideration service is performed. 
It leads to negligence and dishonesty— negligence 
by losing interest in the case, and dishonesty in re- 
fusing to refund when you have allowed the con- 
sideration to fail. 

There is a vague popular belief that lawyers are 
necessarily dishonest. I say vague, because when 
we consider to what extent confidence and honors 
are reposed in and conferred upon lawyers by the 
people, it appears improbable that their impres- 
sion of dishonesty is very distinct and vivid. Yet 
the impression is common, almost universal. Let 
no young man choosing the law for a calling for a 
moment yield to the popular belief— resolve to be 
honest at all events; and if in your own judgment 
you cannot be an honest lawyer, resolve to be 
honest without being a lawyer. Choose some other 
occupation, rather than one in the choosing of 
which you do, in advance, consent to be a knave. 



"Go to wor\ is the only cure. . . ." 



LINCOLN'S anxiety for his step-mother, for whom he felt 
a deep affection, explains the harsh note which runs through 
this sound advice to his step-brother, John D. Johnston. 


Shelbyville, November 4, 1851 



When I came into Charleston day be- 
fore yesterday, I learned that you are anxious to 
sell the land where you live and move to Missouri. 
I have been thinking of this ever since, and can- 
not but think such a notion is utterly foolish. 
What can you do in Missouri better than here? 
Is the land any richer? Can you there, any more 
than here, raise corn and wheat and oats without 
work? Will anybody there, any more than here, do 
your work for you? If you intend to go to work, 
there is no better place than right where you are; 


if you do not intend to go to work, you cannot get 
along anywhere. Squirming and crawling about 
from place to place can do no good. You have 
raised no corn this year; and what you really want 
is to sell the land, get the money, and spend it. 
Part with the land you have, and, my life upon it, 
you will never after own a spot big enough to 
bury you in. Half you will get for the land you 
will spend in moving to Missouri, and the other 
half you will eat, drink, and wear out, and no foot 
of land will be bought. Now, I feel it my duty to 
have no hand in such a piece of foolery. I feel that 
it is so even on your own account, and particu- 
larly on mother's account. The eastern forty acres 
I intend to keep for mother while she lives; if you 
will not cultivate it, it will rent for enough to sup- 
port her— at least, it will rent for something. Her 
dower in the other two forties she can let you 
have, and no thanks to me. Now, do not misunder- 
stand this letter; I do not write it in any unkind- 
ness. I write it in order, if possible, to get you to 
face the truth, which truth is, you are destitute 
because you have idled away all your time. Your 
thousand pretenses for not getting along better are 
all nonsense; they deceive nobody but yourself. 
Go to work is the only cure for your case. 

A. Lincoln 


". . . poor and a cripple as he is. 


rINCOLN explains to a client why he has not taken judg- 
ment for him against a poor cripple. 


Springfield, Oct. 27, 1852 
L. M. HAYS, Esq. 



Yours of Sept. 30th just received. At 
our court, just passed, I could have got a judg- 
ment against Turley, if I had pressed to the ut- 
most; but I am really sorry for him— poor, and a 
cripple as he is— He begged time to try to find 
evidence to prove that the deceased on his death 
bed, ordered the note to be given up to him or 
destroyed. I do not suppose he will get any such 
evidence, but I allowed him until next court to try. 

Yours &c 
A. Lincoln 



"Most governments have been based on the denial 
of equal rights of men. ..." 


MONG the many papers assiduously preserved by his 
secretaries Nicolay and Hay is this fragment in Lincoln's 
handwriting summing up his early views on slavery. 


Circa July, 1854 

THE ant who has toiled and dragged a 
crumb to his nest will furiously defend the 
fruit of his labor against whatever robber assails 
him. So plain that the most dumb and stupid slave 
that ever toiled for a master does constantly know 
that he is wronged. So plain that no one, high or 
low, ever does mistake it, except in a plainly selfish 
way; for although volume upon volume is written 
to prove slavery a very good thing, we never hear 
of the man who wishes to take the good of it by 
being a slave himself. 


Most governments have been based, practically, 
on the denial of the equal rights of men, as I have, 
in part, stated them; ours began by affirming those 
rights. They said, some men are too ignorant and 
vicious to share in government. Possibly so, said 
we; and, by your system, you would always keep 
them ignorant and vicious. We proposed to give 
all a chance; and we expected the weak to grow 
stronger, the ignorant wiser, and all better and 
happier together. 

We made the experiment, and the fruit is be- 
fore us. Look at it, think of it. Look at it in its 
aggregate grandeur, of extent of country, and 
numbers of population— of ship, and steamboat, 
and railroad. 



I have really got it into my head. . . .' 



'INCOLN "takes it into his head" to run for the Senate 
but first makes sure to win the support of an influential friend 
and potential rival. 


Springfield, December 1, 1854 

I have really got it into my head to 
try to be United States Senator, and, if I could 
have your support, my chances would be reason- 
ably good. But I know, and acknowledge, that you 
have as just claims to the place as I have; and 
therefore I cannot ask you to yield to me, if you 
are thinking of becoming a candidate, yourself. If, 
however, you are not, then I should like to be re- 
membered affectionately by you; and also to have 
you make a mark for me with the Anti-Nebraska 
members, down your way. 


If you know, and have no objection to tell, let 
me know whether Trumbull intends to make a 
push. If he does, I suppose the two men in St. 
Clair, and one, or both, in Madison, will be for 
him. We have the legislature, clearly enough, on 
joint ballot, but the Senate is very close, and Cul- 
lom told me to-day that the Nebraska men will 
stave off the election, if they can. Even if we get 
into joint vote, we shall have difficulty to unite 
our forces. Please write me, and let this be con- 

Your friend as ever, 

A. Lincoln 



. . . I am not Senator" 



'INCOLN announces that he has thrown his senatorial 
votes to Trumbull to further the cause of the Party. 


Springfield, 111., Feb. 21, 1855 


The election is over, the session is 
ended and I am not Senator. I have to content my- 
self with the honor of having been the first choice 
of a large majority of the fifty-one members who 
finally made the election. My larger number of 
friends had to surrender to Trumbull's smaller 
number, in order to prevent the election of Mat- 
teson, which would have been a Douglas victory. 
I started with 44 votes and T. with 5. It is rather 
hard for the 44 to have to surrender to the 5 and 


a less good humored man than I, perhaps, would 
not have consented to it,— and it would not have 
been done without my consent. I could not, how- 
ever, let the whole political result go to smash, on 
a point merely personal to myself. 

Yours, etc. 

A. Lincoln 



"1/ for this you and I must differ, differ we must" 


.NOWING full well that this letter would severely test 
his long-time friendship with Josh Speed, Lincoln completely 
unburdens himself on the question of slavery and individual 


Springfield, August 24, 1855 



You know what a poor correspondent I 
am. Ever since I received your very agreeable let- 
ter of the 22d of May I have been intending to 
write you an answer to it. You suggest that in 
political action, now, you and I would differ. I 
suppose we would; not quite as much, however, 
as you may think. You know I dislike slavery, and 
you fully admit the abstract wrong of it. So far 
there is no cause of difference. But you say that 
sooner than yield your legal right to the slave, 


especially at the bidding of those who are not 
themselves interested, you would see the Union 
dissolved. I am not aware that any one is bidding 
you yield that right; very certainly I am not. I 
leave that matter entirely to yourself. I also 
acknowledge your rights and my obligations under 
the Constitution in regard to your slaves. I confess 
I hate to see the poor creatures hunted down and 
caught and carried back to their stripes and un- 
requited toil; but I bite my lips and keep quiet. 
In 1841 you and I had together a tedious low- 
water trip on a steamboat from Louisville to St. 
Louis. You may remember, as I well do, that from 
Louisville to the mouth of the Ohio there were 
on board ten or a dozen slaves shackled together 
with irons. That sight was a continued torment 
to me, and I see something like it every time I 
touch the Ohio or any other slave border. It is 
not fair for you to assume that I have no interest 
in a thing which has, and continually exercises, 
the power of making me miserable. You ought 
rather to appreciate how much the great body of 
the Northern people do crucify their feelings, in 
order to maintain their loyalty to the Constitution 
and the Union. I do oppose the extension of 
slavery because my judgment and feeling so 


prompt me, and I am under no obligations to the 
contrary. If for this you and I must differ, differ 
we must. You say, if you were President, you 
would send an army and hang the leaders of the 
Missouri outrages upon the Kansas elections; still, 
if Kansas fairly votes herself a slave State she must 
be admitted, or the Union must be dissolved. But 
how if she votes herself a slave State unfairly, that 
is, by the very means for which you say you would 
hang men? Must she still be admitted, or the 
Union dissolved? That will be the phase of the 
question when it first becomes a practical one. In 
your assumption that there may be a fair decision 
of the slavery question in Kansas, I plainly see 
you and I would differ about the Nebraska law. 
I look upon that enactment not as a law, but as 
a violence from the beginning. It was conceived 
in violence, is maintained in violence, and is being 
executed in violence. I say it was conceived in 
violence, because the destruction of the Missouri 
Compromise, under the circumstances, was noth- 
ing less than violence. It was passed in violence, 
because it could not have passed at all but for 
the votes of many members in violence of the 
known will of their constituents. It is maintained 
in violence, because the elections since clearly de- 


mand its repeal; and the demand is openly disre- 

You say men ought to be hung for the way they 
are executing the law; I say the way it is being 
executed is quite as good as any of its antecedents. 
It is being executed in the precise way which was 
intended from the first, else why does no Nebraska 
man express astonishment or condemnation? Poor 
Reeder is the only public man who has been silly 
enough to believe that anything like fairness was 
ever intended, and he has been bravely unde- 

That Kansas will form a slave constitution, and 
with it will ask to be admitted into the Union, I 
take to be already a settled question, and so set- 
tled by the very means you so pointedly condemn. 
By every principle of law ever held by any court 
North or South, every negro taken to Kansas is 
free; yet, in utter disregard of this,— in the spirit 
of violence merely,— that beautiful legislature 
gravely passes a law to hang any man who shall 
venture to inform a negro of his legal rights. This 
is the subject and real object of the law. If, like 
Haman, they should hang upon the gallows of 
their own building, I shall not be among the 
mourners for their fate. In my humble sphere, I 


shall advocate the restoration of the Missouri 
Compromise so long as Kansas remains a Terri- 
tory, and when, by all these foul means, it seeks 
to come into the Union as a slave State, I shall 
oppose it. I am very loath in any case to withhold 
my assent to the enjoyment of property acquired 
or located in good faith; but I do not admit that 
good faith in taking a negro to Kansas to be held 
in slavery is a probability with any man. Any man 
who has sense enough to be the controller of his 
own property has too much sense to misunderstand 
the outrageous character of the whole Nebraska 
business. But I digress. In my opposition to the 
admission of Kansas I shall have some company, 
but we may be beaten. If we are, I shall not on 
that account attempt to dissolve the Union. I 
think it probable, however, we shall be beaten. 
Standing as a unit among yourselves, you can, di- 
rectly and indirectly, bribe enough of our men to 
carry the day, as you could on the open proposi- 
tion to establish a monarchy. Get hold of some 
man in the North whose position and ability is 
such that he can make the support of your meas- 
ure, whatever it may be, a Democratic party ne- 
cessity, and the thing is done. Apropos of this, let 
me tell you an anecdote. Douglas introduced the 


Nebraska bill in January. In February afterward 
there was a called session of the Illinois legislature. 
Of the one hundred members composing the two 
branches of that body, about seventy were Demo- 
crats. These latter held a caucus, in which the 
Nebraska bill was talked of, if not formally dis- 
cussed. It was thereby discovered that just three, 
and no more, were in favor of the measure. In a 
day or two Douglas's orders came on to have reso- 
lutions passed approving the bill; and they were 
passed by large majorities!!! The truth of this is 
vouched for by a bolting Democratic member. 
The masses, too, Democratic as well as Whig, 
were even nearer unanimous against it; but, as 
soon as the party necessity of supporting it became 
apparent, the way the Democrats began to see the 
wisdom and justice of it was perfectly astonishing. 
You say that if Kansas fairly votes herself a free 
State, as a Christian you will rejoice at it. All de- 
cent slaveholders talk that way, and I do not doubt 
their candor. But they never vote that way. Al- 
though in a private letter or conversation you will 
express your preference that Kansas shall be free, 
you would vote for no man for Congress who 
would say the same thing publicly. No such man 
could be elected from any district in a slave State. 


You think Stringfellow and company ought to be 
hung; and yet at the next presidential election 
you will vote for the exact type and representative 
of Stringfellow. The slave-breeders and slave- 
traders are a small, odious, and detested class 
among you; and yet in politics they dictate the 
course of all of you, and are as completely your 
masters as you are the master of your own negroes. 
You inquire where I now stand. That is a disputed 
point. I think I am a Whig; but others say there 
are no Whigs, and that I am an Abolitionist. 
When I was at Washington, I voted for the Wil- 
mot proviso as good as forty times; and I never 
heard of any one attempting to unwhig me for 
that. I now do no more than oppose the extension 
of slavery. I am not a Know-nothing; that is cer- 
tain. How could I be? How can any one who 
abhors the oppression of negroes be in favor of 
degrading classes of white people? Our progress 
in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. 
As a nation we began by declaring that "all men 
are created equal. ,, We now practically read it 
"all men are created equal, except negroes." 
When the Know-nothings get control, it will read 
"all men are created equal, except negroes and 
foreigners and Catholics.' ' When it comes to this, 


I shall prefer emigrating to some country where 
they make no pretense of loving liberty,— to Rus- 
sia, for instance, where despotism can be taken 
pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy. 

Mary will probably pass a day or two in Louis- 
ville in October. My kindest regards to Mrs. 
Speed. On the leading subject of this letter, I have 
more of her sympathy than I have of yours; and 
yet let me say I am 

Your friend forever, 

A. Lincoln 



"Heres your old chal\ed hat.' 



N the backwoods jargon that characterizes much of his 
hardy humor, Lincoln asks for a new railroad pass from the 
superintendent of the Alton. 


Springfield, February 13, 1856 

Says Tom to John: "Here's your old 
rotten wheelbarrow. I've broke it, usin' on it. I 
wish you would mend it, case I shall want to bor- 
row it this arter-noon." 

Acting on this as a precedent, I say, "Here's 
your old, chalked hat.' I wish you would take it, 
and send me a new one; case I shall want to use 
it the first of March. ,, 

Yours truly, 

A. Lincoln 



"You must thin\ I am a high' priced man" 


HIS letter typifies the many acts that earned for its writer 
the sobriquet ''Honest Abe" 


Springfield, Illinois, February 21, 1856 


I have just received yours of 16th, with 
check on Flagg & Savage for twenty-five dollars. 
You must think I am a high-priced man. You are 
too liberal with your money. 

Fifteen dollars is enough for the job. I send you 
a receipt for fifteen dollars, and return to you a 
ten-dollar bill. 

Yours truly, 

A. Lincoln 



". . . I argued your case better than my own. . . ." 



HEN a young lawyer who opposed him lacked sufficient 
funds to stay a week in Springfield until the case came up, 
Lincoln volunteered to argue both sides before the Supreme 
Court. In this letter Lincoln announces the judges' decision 
to his absent adversary. 


The Supreme Court came in on the 
appointed day and I did my best to keep faith 
with you. Apparently I argued your case better 
than my own, for the court has just sent down a 
rescript in your favor. Accept my heartiest con- 

Very sincerely yours, 

A. Lincoln 



• • • 

my running would hurt and 
not help the cause.' 1 



N the year The Republican Party was formed Lincoln 
worked hard for its success, but declined when the President 
of Illinois College suggested that he himself be the young 
party's candidate for Congress. 


Springfield, Sept. 27, 1856 



Owing to absence yours of the 16th, 
was not received until the day before yesterday. 
I thank you for your good opinion of me person- 
ally, and still more for the deep interest you take 
in the cause of our common country. It pains me 
a little that you have deemed it necessary to point 
out to me how I may be compensated for throw- 
ing myself in the breach now. This assumes that 


I am merely calculating the chances of personal 
advancement. Let me assure you that I decline to 
be a candidate for congress, on my clear convic- 
tion that my running would hurt and not help 
the cause. I am willing to make any personal sacri- 
fice, but I am not willing to do, what in my own 
judgment, is a sacrifice of the cause itself. 

Very truly yours, 

A. Lincoln 



Lincoln s Challenge to Douglas 


HEN Lincoln first determined to pose to Stephen Doug- 
las the question of the legality of slavery in the Territories, 
his friends warned him that he would lose the election. "Gen- 
tlemen" said Lincoln, "I am killing larger game; if Douglas 
answers, he can never be President, and the battle of 1860 is 
worth a hundred of this." In these simple terms Lincoln pro- 
posed the historic debates: 


Chicago, Illinois, July 24, 1858 



Will it be agreeable to you to make 
an arrangement for you and myself to divide time, 
and address the same audiences the present can- 
vass? Mr. Judd, who will hand you this, is author- 
ized to receive your answer; and, if agreeable to 
you, to enter into the terms of such arrangement. 
Your obedient servant, 

A. Lincoln 



I accede. . 



N equally simple words Lincoln accepted Douglas's terms, 
choosing to waive but not to overlook the advantage "The 
Little Giant" had taken. 


Springfield, July 31, 1858 

Yours of yesterday, naming places, 
times, and terms for joint discussions between us, 
was received this morning. Although by the terms, 
as you propose, you take four openings and closes 
to my three, I accede, and thus close the arrange- 
ment. I direct this to you at Hillsboro, and shall 
try to have both your letter and this appear in the 
"Journal" and "Register" of Monday morning. 

Your obedient servant, 

A. Lincoln 



'And this too shall pass away" 



N one of his speeches Lincoln alludes to the Eastern monarch 
who once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence 
to be ever in view, and which would be true and appropriate 
in all times and situations. They presented him the words, 
"And this, too, shall pass away." Lincoln found this quota- 
tion particularly apt in writing to the Republican State Chair- 
man, after the unsuccessful election of 1858. 


Springfield, November 16, 1858 

Yours of the 15th is just received. I 
wrote you the same day. As to the pecuniary mat- 
ter, I am willing to pay according to my ability; 
but I am the poorest hand living to get others to 

I have been on expenses so long without earn- 


ing anything that I am absolutely without money 
now for even household purposes. Still, if you can 
put in two hundred and fifty dollars for me toward 
discharging the debt of the committee, I will 
allow it when you and I settle the private matter 
between us. 

This, with what I have already paid, and with 
an outstanding note of mine, will exceed my sub- 
scription of five hundred dollars. This, too, is ex- 
clusive of my ordinary expenses during the cam- 
paign, all of which being added to my loss of time 
and business, bears pretty heavily upon one no 
better off in [this] world's goods than I; but as 
I had the post of honor, it is not for me to be over 
nice. You are feeling badly,— "And this too shall 
pass away," never fear. 

Yours as ever, 

A. Lincoln 



"The cause of civil liberty must not be 
surrendered. . . ." 


INCOLN lost the election to Douglas as his friends had 
predicted, but never wavered from his conviction that right 
would prevail. 


Springfield, November 19, 1858 

Yours of the 13th was received some 
days ago. The fight must go on. The cause of civil 
liberty must not be surrendered at the end of one 
or even one hundred defeats. Douglas had the in- 
genuity to be supported in the late contest both 
as the best means to break down and to uphold 
the slave interest. No ingenuity can keep these 
antagonistic elements in harmony long. Another 
explosion will soon come. 

Yours truly, 

A. Lincoln 



Definition of Democracy 


JLhE essence of democracy, as Lincoln saw it, was succinctly 
expressed in his own handwriting in the form of an autograph. 


AS I would not be a slave, so I would not be a 
L master. This expresses my idea of democ- 
racy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of 
the difference, is no democracy. 

A. Lincoln 


"The principles of Jefferson " 

ECAUSE of the simple majesty of its phrase, this is one 
of Lincoln's most distinguished letters. It was written to a 
committee who had invited him to attend a celebration of the 
birthday of Thomas Jefferson. 


Springfield, 111., April 6, 1859 



Your kind note inviting me to attend a 
festival in Boston, on the 28th instant, in honor of 
the birthday of Thomas Jefferson, was duly re- 
ceived. My engagements are such that I cannot 

Bearing in mind that about seventy years ago 
two great political parties were first formed in this 
country, that Thomas Jefferson was the head of 
one of them and Boston the headquarters of the 


other, it is both curious and interesting that those 
supposed to descend politically from the party 
opposed to Jefferson should now be celebrating his 
birthday in their own original seat of empire, 
while those claiming political descent from him 
have nearly ceased to breathe his name every- 

Remembering, too, that the Jefferson party was 
formed upon its supposed superior devotion to 
the personal rights of men, holding the rights of 
property to be secondary only, and greatly in- 
ferior, and assuming that the so-called Democracy 
of to-day are the Jefferson, and their opponents 
the anti-Jefferson, party, it will be equally interest- 
ing to note how completely the two have changed 
hands as to the principle upon which they were 
originally supposed to be divided. The Democracy 
of to-day hold the liberty of one man to be abso- 
lutely nothing, when in conflict with another 
man's right of property; Republicans, on the con- 
trary, are for both the man and the dollar, but in 
case of conflict the man before the dollar. 

I remember being once much amused at seeing 
two partially intoxicated men engaged in a fight 
with their great-coats on, which fight, after a long 
and rather harmless contest, ended in each having 


fought himself out of his own coat and into that 
of the other. If the two leading parties of this day 
are really identical with the two in the days of 
Jefferson and Adams, they have performed the 
same feat as the two drunken men. 

But, soberly, it is now no child's play to save 
the principles of Jefferson from total overthrow 
in this nation. One would state with great confi- 
dence that he could convince any sane child that 
the simpler propositions of Euclid are true; but 
nevertheless he would fail, utterly, with one who 
should deny the definitions and axioms. The prin- 
ciples of Jefferson are the definitions and axioms 
of free society. And yet they are denied and 
evaded, with no small show of success. One dash- 
ingly calls them "glittering generalities." Another 
bluntly calls them "self-evident lies." And others 
insidiously argue that they apply to "superior 
races." These expressions, differing in form, are 
identical in object and effect— the supplanting of 
the principles of free government, and restoring 
those of classification, caste, and legitimacy. They 
would delight a convocation of crowned heads plot- 
ting against the people. They are the vanguard, the 
miners and sappers of returning despotism. We 
must repulse them, or they will subjugate us. This 


is a world of compensation; and he who would be 
no slave must consent to have no slave. Those who 
deny freedom to others deserve it not for them- 
selves, and, under a just God, cannot long retain 
it. All honor to Jefferson— to the man, who, in the 
concrete pressure of a struggle for national inde- 
pendence by a single people, had the coolness, 
forecast, and capacity to introduce into a merely 
revolutionary document an abstract truth, applic- 
able to all men and all times, and so to embalm it 
there that to-day and in all coming days it shall be 
a rebuke and a stumbling-block to the very har- 
bingers of reappearing tyranny and oppression. 

Your obedient servant, 

A. Lincoln 



a large raphole. . . .' 


'ELIEVING material possessions to be a poor measure of 
a man's true mettle, Lincoln had little patience with a New 
York firm that wrote inquiring about a man he knew in 


of all, he has a wife and a baby; together 
they ought to be worth $500,000 to any man. Sec- 
ondly, he has an office in which there is a table 
worth $1.50 and three chairs worth, say, $1. Last 
of all, there is in one corner a large rat-hole, which 
will bear looking into. 


A. Lincoln 


. I do not thin\ myself fit for the presidency, 


O the editor of a Rock Island newspaper, who wished to 
start a "Lincoln for President" boom, "Humble Abe" ex- 
pressed his appreciation and, at the same time, his feeling of 
inadequacy. This was selected by John G. Nicolay as one of 
three letters most representative of Lincoln at his best. 


Springfield, April 16, 1859 

Yours of the 13th is just received. My 
engagements are such that I cannot at any very 
early day visit Rock Island to deliver a lecture, or 
for any other object. As to the other matter you 
kindly mention, I must in candor say I do not 
think myself fit for the presidency. I certainly am 
flattered and gratified that some partial friends 
think of me in that connection; but I really think 


it best for our cause that no concerted effort, such 
as you suggest, should be made. Let this be con- 
sidered confidential. 

Yours very truly, 

A. Lincoln 


in regard to naturalized citizens. . . 


.EPLYING to the editor of one of the largest German 
newspapers, Lincoln declares himself upon the "anti-alien" 
issue in words that cannot be misunderstood. 


Springfield, May 17, 1859 

Your note asking, in behalf of yourself 
and other German citizens, whether I am for or 
against the constitutional provision in regard to 
naturalized citizens, lately adopted by Massachu- 
setts, and whether I am for or against a fusion of 
the Republicans, and other opposition elements, 
for the canvass of 1860, is received. 

Massachusetts is a sovereign and independent 
State; and it is no privilege of mine to scold her 
for what she does. Still, if from what she has done 
an inference is sought to be drawn as to what I 


would do, I may without impropriety speak out. 
I say, then, that, as I understand the Massachusetts 
provision, I am against its adoption in Illinois, or 
in any other place where I have a right to oppose 
it. Understanding the spirit of our institutions to 
aim at the elevation of men, I am opposed to what- 
ever tends to degrade them. I have some little no- 
toriety for commiserating the oppressed negro; 
and I should be strangely inconsistent if I could 
favor any project for curtailing the existing rights 
of white men, even though born in different lands, 
and speaking different languages from myself. As 
to the matter of fusion, I am for it, if it can be had 
on Republican grounds; and I am not for it on 
any other terms. A fusion on any other terms 
would be as foolish as unprincipled. It would lose 
the whole North, while the common enemy would 
still carry the whole South. The question of men is 
a different one. There are good patriotic men and 
able statesmen in the South whom I would cheer- 
fully support, if they would now place themselves 
on Republican ground, but I am against letting 
down the Republican standard a hair's-breadth. 

I have written this hastily, but I believe it an- 
swers your questions substantially. 

Yours truly, 

A. Lincoln 



Lincoln s Skfitch of His Life 



IDING his modesty behind a screen of humor, Lincoln 
pens a two-page sketch of his life for his friend and ardent 
booster, J. W. Fell 


Springfield, December 20, 1859 



Herewith is a little sketch, as you re- 
quested. There is not much of it, for the reason, 
I suppose, that there is not much of me. If any- 
thing be made out of it, I wish it to be modest, 
and not to go beyond the material. If it were 
thought necessary to incorporate anything from 
any of my speeches, I suppose there would be no 
objection. Of course it must not appear to have 
been written by myself. 

Yours very truly, 

A. Lincoln 


I was born February 12, 1809, in Hardin County, 
Kentucky. My parents were both born in Vir- 
ginia, of undistinguished families— second fam- 
ilies, perhaps I should say. My mother, who died 
in my tenth year, was of a family of the name of 
Hanks, some of whom now reside in Adams, and 
others in Macon County, Illinois. My paternal 
grandfather, Abraham Lincoln, emigrated from 
Rockingham County, Virginia, to Kentucky about 
1781 or 1782, where a year or two later he was 
killed by the Indians, not in battle, but by stealth, 
when he was laboring to open a farm in the forest. 
His ancestors, who were Quakers, went to Virginia 
from Berks County, Pennsylvania. An effort to 
identify them with the New England family of 
the same name ended in nothing more definite 
than a similarity of Christian names in both fam- 
ilies, such as Enoch, Levi, Mordecai, Solomon, 
Abraham, and the like. 

My father, at the death of his father, was but 
six years of age, and he grew up literally without 
education. He removed from Kentucky to what is 
now Spencer County, Indiana, in my eighth year. 
We reached our new home about the time the 
State came into the Union. It was a wild region, 
with many bears and other wild animals still in the 


woods. There I grew up. There were some schools, 
so called, but no qualification was ever required 
of a teacher beyond "readin', writin', and cipher- 
in ' " to the rule of three. If a straggler supposed 
to understand Latin happened to sojourn in the 
neighborhood, he was looked upon as a wizard. 
There was absolutely nothing to excite ambition 
for education. Of course, when I came of age I did 
not know much. Still, somehow, I could read, 
write, and cipher to the rule of three, but that was 
all. I have not been to school since. The little ad- 
vance I now have upon this store of education, I 
have picked up from time to time under the pres- 
sure of necessity. 

I was raised to farm work, which I continued till 
I was twenty-two. At twenty-one I came to Illinois, 
Macon County. Then I got to New Salem, at that 
time in Sangamon, now in Menard County, where 
I remained a year as a sort of clerk in a store. Then 
came the Black Hawk war; and I was elected a 
captain of volunteers, a success which gave me 
more pleasure than any I have had since. I went 
the campaign, was elated, ran for the legislature 
the same year (1832), and was beaten— the only 
time I ever have been beaten by the people. The 
next and three succeeding biennial elections I was 


elected to the legislature. I was not a candidate 
afterward. During this legislative period I had 
studied law, and removed to Springfield to prac- 
tise it. In 1846 I was once elected to the lower 
House of Congress. Was not a candidate for re- 
election. From 1849 to 1854, both inclusive, prac- 
tised law more assiduously than ever before. Al- 
ways a Whig in politics; and generally on the 
Whig electoral tickets, making active canvasses. I 
was losing interest in politics when the repeal of 
the Missouri compromise aroused me again. What 
I have done since then is pretty well known. 

If any personal description of me is thought de- 
sirable, it may be said I am, in height, six feet four 
inches, nearly; lean in flesh, weighing on an aver- 
age one hundred and eighty pounds; dark com- 
plexion, with coarse black hair and gray eyes. No 
other marks or brands recollected. 

Yours truly, 

A. Lincoln 



"A house divided against itself cannot stand" 



rINCOLN'S famous "House Divided Speech" placed him 
squarely in the middle of a raging national controversy. Many 
persons, including Douglas, sought to discredit him by placing 
upon his words interpretations which he had never intended. 
Lincoln replied to this heckling by plainly stating, "I meant 
all I said, and did not mean anything I did not say." 




Springfield, Feb. 14, 1860 


Your letter in which, among other 
things, you ask what I meant when I said this 


"Union could not stand half slave and half free"; 
and also what I meant when I said "a house di- 
vided against itself could not stand" is received 
and I very cheerfully answer it as plainly as I may 
be able. You misquote, to some material extent, 
what I did say, which induces me to think you 
have not very carefully read the speech in which 
the expressions occur which puzzle you to under- 
stand. For this reason and because the language I 
used is as plain as I can make it, I now quote at 
length the whole paragraph in which the expres- 
sions which puzzle you occur. It is as follows: "We 
are now far into the fifth year since a policy was 
initiated with the avowed object and confident 
promise of putting an end to slavery agitation. 
Under the operation of that policy that agitation 
has not only not ceased, but constantly augmented. 
I believe it will not cease until a crisis shall have 
been reached, and passed. A house divided against 
itself can not stand. I believe this government can 
not endure permanently, half slave, and half free. 
I do not expect the Union to be dissolved: I do 
not expect the house to fall; but I do expect it will 
cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or 
all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will 
avert the further spread of it and place it where 


the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in 
course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will 
push it forward till it will become alike lawful in 
all the states, old as well as new, North as well as 

That is the whole paragraph; and it puzzles me 
to make my meaning plainer. Look over it care- 
fully, and conclude I meant all I said, and did not 
mean any thing I did not say, and you will have 
my meaning. Douglas attacked me upon this, say- 
ing it was a declaration of war between the slave 
and the free states. You will perceive, I said no 
such thing, and I assure you I thought of no such 
thing. If I had said I believe the Government can- 
not last always half slave and half free, would you 
understand it any better than you do? Endure 
permanently and last always have exactly the same 
meaning. If you, or [sic] if you will state to me 
some meaning which you suppose I had, I can 
and will instantly tell you whether that was my 

Yours very truly, 

A. Lincoln 


". . . painfully sensible of the great 

■ responsibility. . . ." 



INDING it difficult to realize that he has been singled 
out for the highest position in the nation, Lincoln replies to 
the committee sent by the Chicago Convention notifying him 
of his nomination. 


Springfield, Illinois, May 21, 1860 


I tender to you, and through you to 
the Republican National Convention, and all the 
people represented in it, my profoundest thanks 
for the high honor done me, which you now for- 
mally announce. 

Deeply and even painfully sensible of the great 


responsibility which is inseparable from this high 
honor— a responsibility which I could almost wish 
had fallen upon some one of the far more eminent 
men and experienced statesmen whose distin- 
guished names were before the convention— I shall, 
by your leave, consider more fully the resolutions 
of the convention, denominated [in] the plat- 
form, and without any unnecessary or unreason- 
able delay respond to you, Mr. Chairman, in writ- 
ing, not doubting that the platform will be found 
satisfactory, and the nomination gratefully ac- 

And now I will not longer defer the pleasure of 
taking you, and each of you, by the hand. 



Cooper Institute Speech 



HARLES NOTT, writing on behalf of The Young Men's 
Republican Union and wishing to publish Lincoln's already 
famous speech delivered at The Cooper Institute, suggested 
certain changes to make it "as nearly perfect as may be." Lin- 
coln's reply reveals many secrets of his style and lends proof 
to Nott's own observation that "like a good arch— moving one 
word tumbles a whole sentence down." 


Springfield, Ills., May 31, 1860 



Yours of the 23rd, accompanied by a 
copy of the speech delivered by me at the Cooper 
Institute, and upon which you have made some 
notes for emendations, was received some days 
ago. Of course I would not object to, but would be 


pleased rather, with a more perfect edition of that 

I did not preserve memoranda of my investiga- 
tions; and I could not now re-examine, and make 
notes, without an expenditure of time which I can 
not bestow upon it. Some of your notes I do not 

So far as it is intended merely to improve in 
grammar and elegance of composition, I am quite 
agreed; but I do not wish the sense changed, or 
modified, to a hair's breadth. And you, not having 
studied the particular points so closely as I have, 
can not be quite sure that you do not change the 
sense when you do not intend it. For instance, in 
a note at bottom of first page, you propose to sub- 
stitute "Democrats" for "Douglas." But what I am 
saying there is true of Douglas, and is not true of 
"Democrats" generally; so that the proposed sub- 
stitution would be a very considerable blunder. 
Your proposed insertion of "residences" though it 
would do little or no harm, is not at all necessary 
to the sense I was trying to convey. On page 5 your 
proposed grammatical change would certainly do 
no harm. The "impudently absurd" I stick to. The 
striking out "he" and inserting "we" turns the 
sense exactly wrong. The striking out "upon it" 
leaves the sense too general and incomplete. The 


sense is "act as they acted upon that question"— 
not as they acted generally. 

After considering your proposed changes on 
page 7, I do not think them material, but I am 
willing to defer to you in relation to them. 

On page 9, striking out "to us" is probably 
right. The word "lawyer's" I wish retained. The 
word "Courts" struck out twice, I wish reduced to 
"Court" and retained. "Court" as a collective 
noun properly governs the plural "have" as I 
understand. "The" preceding "Court," in the lat- 
ter case, must also be retained. The words "quite," 
"as," and "or" on the same page, I wish retained. 
The italicising, and quotation marking, I have no 
objection to. 

As to the note at bottom, I do not think any too 
much is admitted. What you propose on page 11, 
is right. I return your copy of the speech, together 
with one printed here, under my own hasty super- 
vising. That at New York was printed without any 
supervision by me. If you conclude to publish a 
new edition, allow me to see the proof-sheets. 

And now thanking you for your very compli- 
mentary letter, and your interest for me generally, 

I subscribe myself. 

Your friend and servant, 

A. Lincoln 



"Abraham'' or "Abram 


N this letter to the Republican Chairman, Lincoln concludes 
that the spelling of his first name really doesn't make much 


Springfield, Illinois, June 4, 1860 

It seems as if the question whether my 
first name is "Abraham" or "Abram ,, will never 
be settled. It is "Abraham," and if the letter of 
acceptance is not yet in print, you may, if you 
think fit, have my signature thereto printed 
"Abraham Lincoln." Exercise your judgment 
about this. 

Yours as ever, 

A. Lincoln 



'Must" is the word, 



LINCOLN, who knew only too well the need for persever- 
ance, sends a few words of advice and encouragement to a 
friend of his son who failed to enter Harvard. 


Springfield, Ills., July 22, 1860 

I have scarcely felt greater pain in my 
life than on learning yesterday from Bob's letter, 
that you had failed to enter Harvard University. 
And yet there is very little in it, if you will allow 
no feeling of discouragement to seize, and prey 
upon you. It is a certain truth, that you can enter, 
and graduate in, Harvard University; and having 
made the attempt, you must succeed in it. 'Must' 
is the word. 

I know not how to aid you, save in the assur- 


ance of one of mature age, and much severe ex- 
perience, that you can not fail, if you resolutely 
determine that you will not. 

The President of the institution, can scarcely 
be other than a kind man; and doubtless he would 
grant you an interview, and point out the readiest 
way to remove, or overcome, the obstacles which 
have thwarted you. 

In your temporary failure there is no evidence 
that you may not yet be a better scholar, and a 
more successful man in the great struggle of life, 
than many others, who have entered College more 

Again I say let no feeling of discouragement 
prey upon you, and in the end you are sure to 

With more than a common interest I subscribe 

Very truly your friend, 

A. Lincoln 



. the 'soap question 

i •»> 


HEN a Professor Gardner applied to the President-Elect 
for a soap testimonial, he good-humoredly complied, quoting 
his "superior officer" in domestic affairs. 


Springfield, 111., September 28, 1860 



Some specimens of your Soap have been 
used at our house and Mrs. L. declares it is a 
superior article. She at the same time protests that 
/ have never given sufficient attention to the "soap 
question" to be a competent judge. 

Yours very truly, 

A. Lincoln 



I give the leave. . . / 



HOMAS MADIGAN, the famous dealer in Lincoln manu- 
scripts, considered this one of the sixteenth President's most 
characteristic letters, both in sentiment and phraseology. 



Springfield, Ills., Oct, 13, 1860 




Yours of the 6th asking permission to 
inscribe your new legal work to me, is received. 
Gratefully accepting the proffered honor, I give 
the leave, begging only that the inscription may 
be in modest terms, not representing me as a man 
of great learning, or a very extraordinary one in 

any respect. 

Yours very truly, 

A. Lincoln 


A characteristically modest letter, only recently 

brought to light, and not included in any of the 

standard Lincoln collections. 

4~>p, <*« Jfe^w /h^C X^c^L fueof*** +rv**-*> 

Facsimile reproduction of Lincoln's famed "whisk- 
ers" letter to little Grace Bedell. 


'As to the w\\is\ers. 


LITTLE girl of West field, New York, wrote Mr. Lin- 
coln: "I am a little girl, eleven years old. . . . have you any 
little girls about as large as I am. . . . if you will let your 
whiskers grow. . . . you would look a great deal better for 
your face is so thin. . . . I must not write any more answer 
this right off. Good Bye." Grace Bedell. 


Springfield, Illinois, October 19, 1860 



Your very agreeable letter of the 15th 
is received. I regret the necessity of saying I have 
no daughter. I have three sons— one seventeen, one 
nine, and one seven years of age. They, with their 
mother, constitute my whole family. As to the 
whiskers, having never worn any, do you not think 


people would call it a piece of silly affectation if 
I were to begin it now? 

Your very sincere well-wisher, 

A. Lincoln 

Not long afterwards, Lincoln let his beard grow. 
Happening to pass through Westfield, he asked for 
his little friend and said, "You see I let these 
whiskers grow for you, Grace." 



"1/ they hear not Moses. . . . ' 



INCOLN, having many times declared his intentions to 
prevent the spread of slavery to the Territories and not to in- 
terfere with slavery in the States, sees no possible good in re- 
stating his position to those who will not "read or heed." 



Springfield, Illinois, October 23, 1860 



Yours of the 13th was duly received. 
I appreciate your motive when you suggest the 
propriety of my writing for the public something 
disclaiming all intention to interfere with slaves 
or slavery in the States; but in my judgment it 
would do no good. I have already done this many, 
many times; and it is in print, and open to all 
who will read. Those who will not read or heed 


what I have already publicly said would not read 
or heed a repetition of it. "If they hear not Moses 
and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded 
though one rose from the dead." 

Yours truly, 

A. Lincoln 



'That, I suppose is the rub.' 



.WO days after the Southern States had seceded, Lincoln 
sent this concise summation of the difference in Northern and 
Southern viewpoints to the man who was destined to assume 
the second highest office in the Confederacy. 


(For your own eye only.) 

Springfield, Illinois, December 22, 1860 

Your obliging answer to my short note 
is just received, and for which please accept my 
thanks. I fully appreciate the present peril the 
country is in, and the weight of responsibility on 
me. Do the people of the South really entertain 
fears that a Republican administration would, di- 
rectly or indirectly, interfere with the slaves, or 
with them about the slaves? If they do, I wish to 


assure you, as once a friend, and still, I hope, not 
an enemy, that there is no cause for such fears. 
The South would be in no more danger in this 
respect than it was in the days of Washington. I 
suppose, however, this does not meet the case. You 
think slavery is right and ought to be extended, 
while we think it is wrong and ought to be re- 
stricted. That, I suppose, is the rub. It certainly 
is the only substantial difference between us. 

Yours very truly, 

A. Lincoln 



Lincoln s Farewell Address 

JlHERE was an unusual quiver on his lip, and a still more 
unusual tear on his furrowed cheek" said Ward Lamon, who 
witnessed the sad parting when Lincoln, pausing on the rear 
platform of his train, addressed these few, unprepared words 
to his friends in Springfield. 

FEB. 11, 1861 

No one, not in my situation, can ap- 
preciate my feeling of sadness at this parting. To 
this place, and the kindness of these people, I owe 
everything. Here I have lived a quarter of a cen- 
tury, and have passed from a young to an old man. 
Here my children have been born, and one is 
buried. I now leave, not knowing when or whether 
ever I may return, with a task before me greater 
than that which rested upon Washington. With- 


out the assistance of that Divine Being who ever 
attended him, I cannot succeed. With that as- 
sistance, I cannot fail. Trusting in Him who can 
go with me, and remain with you, and be every- 
where for good, let us confidently hope that all 
will yet be well. To His care commending you, 
as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, 
I bid you an affectionate farewell. 


". . . shall the liberties of this Country be 


HEN the Presidential train stopped at Indianapolis on 
its way to Washington, Lincoln delivered this abbreviated ad- 
dress, reminding the people that the preservation of liberty 
was their business and not his. 

FEB. 11, 1861 

GOVERNOR MORTON and Fellow-citi- 
zens of the State of Indiana: Most heartily 
do I thank you for this magnificent reception; 
and while I cannot take to myself any share 
of the compliment thus paid, more than that 
which pertains to a mere instrument— an ac- 
cidental instrument perhaps I should say— of a 
great cause, I yet must look upon it as a magnifi- 
cent reception, and as such most heartily do I 
thank you for it. You have been pleased to address 


yourself to me chiefly in behalf of this glorious 
Union in which we live, in all of which you have 
my hearty sympathy, and, as far as may be within 
my power, will have, one and inseparably, my 
hearty cooperation. While I do not expect, upon 
this occasion, or until I get to Washington, to at- 
tempt any lengthy speech, I will only say that to 
the salvation of the Union there needs but one 
single thing, the hearts of a people like yours. 
When the people rise in mass in behalf of the 
Union and the liberties of this country, truly may 
it be said, "The gates of hell cannot prevail against 
them." In all trying positions in which I shall be 
placed, and doubtless I shall be placed in many 
such, my reliance will be upon you and the people 
of the United States; and I wish you to remember, 
now and forever, that it is your business, and not 
mine; that if the union of these States and the 
liberties of this people shall be lost, it is but little 
to any one man of fifty-two years of age, but a 
great deal to the thirty millions of people who in- 
habit these United States, and to their posterity 
in all coming time. It is your business to rise up 
and preserve the Union and liberty for yourselves, 
and not for me. I appeal to you again to constantly 
bear in mind that not with politicians, not with 


Presidents, not with office-seekers, but with you, 
is the question: Shall the Union and shall the lib- 
erties of this country be preserved to the latest 


Speech at Independence Hall 



ETECTIVE Allan Pinkerton intercepted the Presidential 
party at Philadelphia to warn Lincoln of a plot for his assassi- 
nation. Speaking that evening at Independence Hall, Lincoln 
had proclaimed he would rather be assassinated on the spot 
than sacrifice the principles of the Declaration of Inde- 


FEB. 22, 1861 



I am filled with deep emotion at find- 
ing myself standing in this place, where were 
collected together the wisdom, the patriotism, the 
devotion to principle, from which sprang the in- 
stitutions under which we live. You have kindly 
suggested to me that in my hands is the task of 
restoring peace to our distracted country. I can 
say in return, sir, that all the political sentiments 


I entertain have been drawn, so far as I have been 
able to draw them, from the sentiments which 
originated in and were given to the world from 
this hall. I have never had a feeling, politically, 
that did not spring from the sentiments embodied 
in the Declaration of Independence. I have often 
pondered over the dangers which were incurred 
by the men who assembled here and framed and 
adopted that Declaration. I have pondered over 
the toils that were endured by the officers and sol- 
diers of the army who achieved that independence. 
I have often inquired of myself what great prin- 
ciple or idea it was that kept this Confederacy so 
long together. It was not the mere matter of sepa- 
ration of the colonies from the motherland, but 
that sentiment in the Declaration of Independence 
which gave liberty not alone to the people of this 
country, but hope to all the world, for all future 
time. It was that which gave promise that in due 
time the weights would be lifted from the shoul- 
ders of all men, and that all should have an equal 
chance. This is the sentiment embodied in the 
Declaration of Independence. Now, my friends, 
can this country be saved on that basis? If it can, 
I will consider myself one of the happiest men in 
the world if I can help to save it. If it cannot be 


saved upon that principle, it will be truly awful. 
But if this country cannot be saved without giving 
up that principle, I was about to say I would 
rather be assassinated on this spot than surrender 
it. Now, in my view of the present aspect of af- 
fairs, there is no need of bloodshed and war. There 
is no necessity for it. I am not in favor of such a 
course; and I may say in advance that there will 
be no bloodshed unless it is forced upon the gov- 
ernment. The government will not use force, un- 
less force is used against it. 

My friends, this is wholly an unprepared speech. 
I did not expect to be called on to say a word when 
I came here. I supposed I was merely to do some- 
thing toward raising a flag. I may, therefore, have 
said something indiscreet. But I have said nothing 
but what I am willing to live by, and, if it be the 
pleasure of Almighty God, to die by. 


T feel constrained to beg. 



HEN Lincoln refused to let Seward dictate the mem- 
bers of his Cabinet, the Secretary of State handed in his resig- 
nation. Saying, "I can't afford to let Seward take the first 
trick" the President immediately dispatched this note. 


Executive Mansion, March 4, 1861 



Your note of the 2d instant, asking 
to withdraw your acceptance of my invitation to 
take charge of the State Department, was duly 
received. It is the subject of the most painful 
solicitude with me, and I feel constrained to beg 
that you will countermand the withdrawal. The 
public interest, I think, demands that you should; 
and my personal feelings are deeply enlisted in 
the same direction. Please consider and answer 
by 9 A.M. to-morrow. 

Your obedient servant, 

A. Lincoln 


'''Some Thoughts for the President's 

'ELIEVING the President incompetent to run the affairs 
of State in times of crisis, Secretary Seward attempted to take 
over the reins by submitting a detailed plan of action. Said the 
noted Civil War journalist, Henry Watterson, in commenting 
on Lincoln's reply, "Not a word was omitted that was neces- 
sary, and not a hint or allusion is contained that could be dis- 
pensed with. It was conclusive." 


Executive Mansion, April 1, 1861 



Since parting with you I have been 
considering your paper dated this day, and en- 
titled "Some Thoughts for the President's Con- 
sideration." The first proposition in it is, "First, 
We are at the end of a month's administration, 


and yet without a policy either domestic or for- 

At the beginning of that month, in the inau- 
gural, I said: "The power confided in me will be 
used to hold, occupy, and possess the property 
and places belonging to the government, and to 
collect the duties and imposts." This had your 
distinct approval at the time; and, taken in con- 
nection with the order I immediately gave Gen- 
eral Scott, directing him to employ every means 
in his power to strengthen and hold the forts, com- 
prises the exact domestic policy you now urge, 
with the single exception that it does not propose 
to abandon Fort Sumter. 

Again, I do not perceive how the reinforcement 
of Fort Sumter would be done on a slavery or a 
party issue, while that of Fort Pickens would be 
on a more national and patriotic one. 

The news received yesterday in regard to St. 
Domingo certainly brings a new item within the 
range of our foreign policy; but up to that time 
we have been preparing circulars and instructions 
to ministers and the like, all in perfect harmony, 
without even a suggestion that we had no foreign 

Upon your closing propositions— that "what- 


ever policy we adopt, there must be an energetic 
prosecution of it. 

'Tor this purpose it must be somebody's busi- 
ness to pursue and direct it incessantly. 

"Either the President must do it himself, and 
be all the while active in it, or 

"Devolve it on some member of his cabinet. 
Once adopted, debates on it must end, and all 
agree and abide"— I remark that if this must be 
done, I must do it. When a general line of policy 
is adopted, I apprehend there is no danger of its 
being changed without good reason, or continuing 
to be a subject of unnecessary debate; still, upon 
points arising in its progress I wish, and suppose 
I am entitled to have, the advice of all the cabinet. 
Your obedient servant, 

A. Lincoln 



'. . . pecuniarily responsible. . . 



ISHING neither to hurt the feelings of a man who re- 
quested a letter of recommendation nor to mislead his friend 
Swett, Lincoln carefully and shrewdly worded this note to serve 
both purposes. 



This introduces Mr. William Yates, 
who visits Bloomington on some business matter. 
He is pecuniarily responsible for anything he will 
say; and, in fact, for anything he will say on any 

Yours very truly, 

A. Lincoln 



'You will hold out if possible. 

• • • 

JlHIS letter was addressed to the besieged Union forces at Fort 
Sumter. Drafted by the President and signed by the Secretary 
of War, it bore an indorsement in Lincoln's handwriting read- 
ing, "This was sent by Captain Talbot on April 6, 1861, to be 
delivered to Major Anderson, if permitted. On reaching Charles- 
ton, he was refused permission to deliver it to Major Anderson." 


War Department, Washington, April 4, 1861 



Your letter of the 1st instant occasions 
some anxiety to the President. 

On the information of Captain Fox, he had sup- 
posed you could hold out till the 15th instant 
without any great inconvenience, and had pre- 
pared an expedition to relieve you before that 


Hoping still that you will be able to sustain 
yourself till the 11th or 12th instant, the expedi- 
tion will go forward, and, finding your flag flying, 
will attempt to provision you, and in case the ef- 
fort is resisted, will endeavor also to reinforce 

You will therefore hold out, if possible, till the 
arrival of the expedition. 

It is not, however, the intention of the Presi- 
dent to subject your command to any danger or 
hardship beyond what, in your judgment, would 
be usual in military life; and he has entire confi- 
dence that you will act as becomes a patriot and 
a soldier under all circumstances. 

Whenever, if at all, in your judgment, to save 
yourself and command, a capitulation becomes a 
necessity, you are authorized to make it. 


Simon Cameron 



'For a daring and dangerous enterprise, . . ." 



T was such letters as this, written to Gustavus Fox after his 
failure to provision Fort Sumter, that won for Lincoln the 
loyal devotion and supreme efforts of his commanders. 


Washington, May 1, 1861 



I sincerely regret that the failure of 
the late attempt to provision Fort Sumter should 
be the source of any annoyance to you. 

The practicability of your plan was not, in fact, 
brought to a test. By reason of a gale, well known 
in advance to be possible and not improbable, the 
tugs, an essential part of the plan, never reached 
the ground; while, by an accident for which you 
were in no wise responsible, and possibly I to some 
extent was, you were deprived of a war vessel, with 


her men, which you deemed of great importance 
to the enterprise. 

I most cheerfully and truly declare that the 
failure of the undertaking has not lowered you a 
particle, while the qualities you developed in the 
effort have greatly heightened you in my esti- 

For a daring and dangerous enterprise of a 
similar character you would to-day be the man of 
all my acquaintances whom I would select. You 
and I both anticipated that the cause of the coun- 
try would be advanced by making the attempt to 
provision Fort Sumter, even if it should fail; and 
it is no small consolation now to feel that our 
anticipation is justified by the result. 

Very truly your friend, 

A. Lincoln 



'. . . beyond all earthly power. 



'INCOLN had a fatherly affection for Colonel Ellsworth, 
who, in the early days of the war, was fatally shot while lower- 
ing a Confederate flag from the roof of a house in Alexandria, 
Virginia. Lincoln's letter to the young officer's parents ranks 
with the famous Bixby letter as a masterpiece of compassion. 



Washington, D. C, May 25, 1861 


In the untimely loss of your noble 
son, our affliction here is scarcely less than your 
own. So much of promised usefulness to one's 
country, and of bright hopes for one's self and 
friends, have rarely been so suddenly dashed as 
in his fall. In size, in years, and in youthful ap- 
pearance a boy only, his power to command men 


was surpassingly great. This power, combined 
with a fine intellect, an indomitable energy, and 
a taste altogether military, constituted in him, as 
seemed to me, the best natural talent in that de- 
partment I ever knew. 

And yet he was singularly modest and defer- 
ential in social intercourse. My acquaintance with 
him began less than two years ago; yet through 
the latter half of the intervening period it was as 
intimate as the disparity of our ages and my en- 
grossing engagements would permit. To me he 
appeared to have no indulgences or pastimes; and 
I never heard him utter a profane or an intem- 
perate word. What was conclusive of his good 
heart, he never forgot his parents. The honors he 
labored for so laudably, and for which in the sad 
end he so gallantly gave his life, he meant for them 
no less than for himself. 

In the hope that it may be no intrusion upon 
the sacredness of your sorrow, I have ventured to 
address you this tribute to the memory of my 
young friend and your brave and early fallen 

May God give you that consolation which is 
beyond all earthly power. 

Sincerely your friend in a common affliction, 

A. Lincoln 



Wanting to wor\ is so rare ' 



'INCOLN grants the request of a mother seeking employ- 
ment for her two sons. 


Executive Mansion, October 17, 1861 



The lady bearer of this says she has 
two sons who want to work. Set them at it if pos- 
sible. Wanting to work is so rare a want that it 
should be encouraged. 

Yours truly, 

A. Lincoln 



"Hadnt we better span\ this drummer boy . . . ?" 



'INCOLN recommends a more appropriate punishment to 
fit the crime of 14-year old Daniel Winger who had been 
sentenced to be shot. 




Hadn't we better spank this drummer 
boy and send him back home to Leavenworth? 

A. Lincoln 


"He who does something at the head of one 
regiment. . . ." 



HEN Major-General Hunter was assigned the command 
of the Department of Kansas he considered the appointment 
far beneath his capacity and wrote the President saying so. 
On Lincoln's answering letter the General made this notation: 
"The President's reply to my 'ugly letter/ This lay on his table 
a month after it was written, and when finally sent was by a 
special conveyance, with the direction that it was only to be 
given to me when I was in good humor." 

Executive Mansion, Washington, December 31, 1861 

Yours of the 23d is received, and I am 
constrained to say it is difficult to answer so ugly 
a letter in good temper. I am, as you intimate, 
losing much of the great confidence I placed in 


you, not from any act or omission of yours touch- 
ing the public service, up to the time you were 
sent to Leavenworth, but from the flood of grum- 
bling despatches and letters I have seen from you 
since. I knew you were being ordered to Leaven- 
worth at the time it was done; and I aver that 
with as tender a regard for your honor and your 
sensibilities as I had for my own, it never oc- 
curred to me that you were being "humiliated, 
insulted and disgraced!" nor have I, up to this 
day, heard an intimation that you have been 
wronged, coming from any one but yourself. No 
one has blamed you for the retrograde movement 
from Springfield, nor for the information you gave 
General Cameron; and this you could readily 
understand, if it were not for your unwarranted 
assumption that the ordering you to Leavenworth 
must necessarily have been done as a punishment 
for some fault. I thought then, and think yet, the 
position assigned to you is as responsible, and as 
honorable, as that assigned to Buell— I know that 
General McClellan expected more important re- 
sults from it. My impression is that at the time 
you were assigned to the new Western Depart- 
ment, it had not been determined to replace Gen- 
eral Sherman in Kentucky; but of this I am not 

certain, because the idea that a command in Ken- 
tucky was very desirable, and one in the farther 
West undesirable, had never occurred to me. You 
constantly speak of being placed in command of 
only 3,000. Now tell me, is this not mere impa- 
tience? Have you not known all the while that 
you are to command four or five times that many? 
I have been, and am sincerely your friend; and 
if, as such, I dare to make a suggestion, I would 
say you are adopting the best possible way to ruin 
yourself. "Act well your part, there all the honor 
lies." He who does something at the head of one 
Regiment, will eclipse him who does nothing at 
the head of a hundred. 

Your friend, as ever, 

A. Lincoln 



(thy c^t^^r Ji^ 
US-fa tSF^Ju A *SA/fr— JGfiJ<S~ £*£~D 

fa*-, ^5 

An excellent example of Lincoln's faculty for in- 
jecting wit and wisdom into routine correspond- 
ence. From the Oliver R. Barrett collection. 


l I wish to he free to go at once. . . .' 



'INCOLN advises the Secretary of War that the precau- 
tions taken for the safety of the President are neither necessary 
nor convenient. 


Executive Mansion, January 22, 1862 



On reflection I think it will not do, as 
a rule, for the adjutant-general to attend me wher- 
ever I go: not that I have any objection to his 
presence, but that it would be an uncompensating 
encumbrance both to him and me. When it shall 
occur to me to go anywhere, I wish to be free to 
go at once, and not to have to notify the adjutant- 
general and wait till he can get ready. 

It is better, too, for the public service that he 
shall give his time to the business of his office, and 
not to personal attendance on me. 


While I thank you for the kindness of the sug- 
gestion, my view of the matter is as I have stated. 

Yours truly, 

A. Lincoln 


. . the Comrnander'iri'Chief may order what he 

HEN he found it necessary to over-rule General Mc- 
Clellan, Lincoln was direct and firm, but careful not to offend 
his sensitive commander. 


Executive Mansion, March 21, 1862 



This morning I felt constrained to or- 
der Blenker's division to Fremont, and I write 
this to assure you that I did so with great pain, 
understanding that you would wish it otherwise. 
If you could know the full pressure of the case, I 
am confident you would justify it, even beyond a 
mere acknowledgment that the Commander-in- 
Chief may order what he pleases. 

Yours, very truly, 

Abraham Lincoln 



". . . a safe place for certain men to stand on the 
Constitution. . . ." 



'INCOLN decries the acts of a judge who uses the protec- 
tion of the Constitution to shield certain men who would seek 
to destroy it. 


Executive Mansion, Washington, June 26, 1862 



I have been considering the appeal 
made by yourself and Senator Pearce in behalf of 
Judge Carmichael. His charge to the Grand Jury 
was left with me by the senator, and on reading 
it I must confess I was not very favorably im- 
pressed toward the judge. The object of the charge, 
I understand, was to procure prosecution and 
punishment of some men for arresting or doing 
violence to some secessionists— that is, the judge 


was trying to help a little by giving the protection 
of law to those who were endeavoring to over- 
throw the supreme law— trying if he could find a 
safe place for certain men to stand on the Constitu- 
tion, whilst they should stab it in another place. 

But possibly I am mistaken. 

The Secretary of War and I have agreed that 
if the judge will take the oath of allegiance usually 
taken in such cases, he may be discharged. Please 
ascertain and inform me whether he will do it. 

Yours very truly, 

A. Lincoln 



"M;y view of the present condition of the war " 

A HIS letter is one of three selected by John G. Nicolay, 
the President's secretary and biographer, as being representa- 
tive of "Lincoln at his best." 


Executive Mansion, June 28, 1862 

My view of the present condition of 
the war is about as follows: 

The evacuation of Corinth and our delay by 
the flood in the Chickahominy have enabled the 
enemy to concentrate too much force in Richmond 
for McClellan to successfully attack. In fact there 
soon will be no substantial rebel force anywhere 
else. But if we send all the force from here to Mc- 
Clellan, the enemy will, before we can know of 
it, send a force from Richmond and take Wash- 


ington. Or if a large part of the western army be 
brought here to McClellan, they will let us have 
Richmond, and retake Tennessee, Kentucky, Mis- 
souri, etc. What should be done is to hold what 
we have in the West, open the Mississippi, and 
take Chattanooga and East Tennessee without 
more. A reasonable force should in every event 
be kept about Washington for its protection. Then 
let the country give us a hundred thousand new 
troops in the shortest possible time, which, added 
to McClellan directly or indirectly, will take Rich- 
mond without endangering any other place which 
we now hold, and will substantially end the war. 
I expect to maintain this contest until successful, 
or till I die, or am conquered, or my term expires, 
or Congress or the country forsake me; and I 
would publicly appeal to the country for this new 
force were it not that I fear a general panic and 
stampede would follow, so hard it is to have a 
thing understood as it really is. I think the new 
force should be all, or nearly all, infantry, prin- 
cipally because such can be raised most cheaply 

and quickly. 

Yours very truly, 

A. Lincoln 


l I am a patient man. 


LINCOLN'S patience is sorely tried in answering Reverdy 
Johnson, Baltimore Unionist, who had joined the chorus of 
criticism of the Louisiana Military Authority. 



Executive Mansion, Washington, July 26, 1862 



Yours of the 16th, by the hand of 
Governor Shepley, is received. It seems the Union 
feeling in Louisiana is being crushed out by the 
course of General Phelps. Please pardon me for 
believing that is a false pretense. The people of 
Louisiana— all intelligent people everywhere— 
know full well that I never had a wish to touch 
the foundations of their society, or any right of 
theirs. With perfect knowledge of this they forced 


a necessity upon me to send armies among them, 
and it is their own fault, not mine, that they are 
annoyed by the presence of General Phelps. They 
also know the remedy— know how to be cured of 
General Phelps. Remove the necessity of his pres- 
ence. And might it not be well for them to con- 
sider whether they have not already had time 
enough to do this? If they can conceive of anything 
worse than General Phelps within my power, 
would they not better be looking out for it? They 
very well know the way to avert all this is simply 
to take their place in the Union upon the old 
terms. If they will not do this, should they not 
receive harder blows rather than lighter ones? You 
are ready to say I apply to friends what is due only 
to enemies. I distrust the wisdom if not the sin- 
cerity of friends who would hold my hands while 
my enemies stab me. This appeal of professed 
friends has paralyzed me more in this struggle 
than any other one thing. You remember telling 
me, the day after the Baltimore mob in April, 
1861, that it would crush all Union feeling in 
Maryland for me to attempt bringing troops over 
Maryland soil to Washington. I brought the troops 
notwithstanding, and yet there was Union feeling 
enough left to elect a legislature the next autumn, 


which in turn elected a very excellent Union 
United States senator! I am a patient man— always 
willing to forgive on the Christian terms of re- 
pentance, and also to give ample time for repent- 
ance. Still, I must save this government, if possible. 
What I cannot do, of course I will not do; but it 
may as well be understood, once for all, that I shall 
not surrender this game leaving any available card 

Yours truly, 

A. Lincoln 



'Bro\en eggs cannot be mended ' 



IS dander up, Lincoln replies vigorously to another critic 
of the government's Louisiana policy, through August Bel- 
mont, the New York financier. 


July 31, 1862 

You send to Mr. W an extract from 

a letter written at New Orleans the 9th instant, 
which is shown to me. You do not give the writer's 
name; but plainly he is a man of ability, and 
probably of some note. He says: "The time has 
arrived when Mr. Lincoln must take a decisive 
course. Trying to please everybody, he will satisfy 
nobody. A vacillating policy in matters of im- 
portance is the very worst. Now is the time, if ever, 
for honest men who love their country to rally to 
its support. Why will not the North say officially 
that it wishes for the restoration of the Union as 
it was?" 


And so, it seems, this is the point on which the 
writer thinks I have no policy. Why will he not 
read and understand what I have said? 

The substance of the very declaration he desires 
is in the inaugural, in each of the two regular mes- 
sages to Congress, and in many, if not all, the 
minor documents issued by the Executive since 
the inauguration. 

Broken eggs cannot be mended; but Louisiana 
has nothing to do now but to take her place in the 
Union as it was, barring the already broken eggs. 
The sooner she does so, the smaller will be the 
amount of that which will be past mending. This 
government cannot much longer play a game in 
which it stakes all, and its enemies stake nothing. 
Those enemies must understand that they cannot 
experiment for ten years trying to destroy the gov- 
ernment, and if they fail still come back into the 
Union unhurt. If they expect in any contingency 
to ever have the Union as it was, I join with the 
writer in saying, "Now is the time." 

How much better it would have been for the 
writer to have gone at this, under the protection 
of the army at New Orleans, than to have sat down 
in a closet writing complaining letters northward! 

Yours truly, 

A. Lincoln 



'Cant you give him a chance?' 



ARL SANDBURG, in his "War Years," tells of the time 
Lincoln met a man in the street and said, "You look like an 
able-bodied man— why don't you join the army?" When the 
man answered that he'd be glad to die for his country if only 
given a chance, Lincoln wrote out and sealed this note, ad- 
dressed to 714 Fifteenth Street, and instructed the man to take 
it there. 




The bearer is anxious to go to the front 

and die for his country. Can't you give him a 


A. Lincoln 



I would save the Union' 



HEN the New York Tribune assailed the President edi- 
torially for not taking a more radical stand on the question 
of slavery, Lincoln sent to Horace Greeley this famous reply, 
which ranks near the top of his greatest State Papers. 


Executive Mansion, Washington, August, 22, 1862 



I have just read yours of the 19th, ad- 
dressed to myself through the New York 4 'Trib- 
une." If there be in it any statements or assump- 
tions of fact which I may know to be erroneous, 
I do not now and here, controvert them. If there 
be in it any inferences which I may believe to 
be falsely drawn, I do not, now and here, argue 
against them. If there be perceptible in it an im- 
patient and dictatorial tone, I waive it in deference 


to an old friend whose heart I have always sup- 
posed to be right. 

As to the policy I "seem to be pursuing," as you 
say, I have not meant to leave any one in doubt. 

I would save the Union. I would save it the 
shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner 
the national authority can be restored, the nearer 
the Union will be "the Union as it was." If there 
be those who would not save the Union unless 
they could at the same time save slavery, I do not 
agree with them. If there be those who would not 
save the Union unless they could at the same time 
destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My para- 
mount object in this struggle is to save the Union, 
and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I 
could save the Union without freeing any slave, 
I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all 
the slaves, I would do it; and if I could save it by 
freeing some and leaving others alone, I would 
also do that. What I do about slavery and the 
colored race, I do because I believe it helps to 
save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear be- 
cause I do not believe it would help to save the 
Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe 
what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do 
more whenever I shall believe doing more will 


help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when 
shown to be errors, and I shall adopt new views so 
fast as they shall appear to be true views. 

I have here stated my purpose according to my 
view of official duty; and I intend no modification 
of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men 
everywhere could be free. 


A. Lincoln 



"These are not the days of miracles. . . ." 


.LTHOUGH in this reply to a religious delegation Lin- 
coln explained why he should not issue an Emancipation 
Proclamation, he had at that very moment a draft of the 
Proclamation in his desk and was only holding it for the right 
occasion. Three days later the Battle of Antietam provided 
the long-awaited opportunity, and on September 24 Lincoln 
released the Proclamation to the press. 


September 13, 1862 

THE subject presented in the memorial is 
one upon which I have thought much for 
weeks past, and I may even say for months. I am 
approached with the most opposite opinions and 
advice, and that by religious men who are equally 
certain that they represent the divine will. I am 


sure that either the one or the other class is mis- 
taken in that belief, and perhaps in some respects 
both. I hope it will not be irreverent for me to say 
that if it is probable that God would reveal his 
will to others on a point so connected with my 
duty, it might be supposed he would reveal it 
directly to me; for, unless I am more deceived in 
myself than I often am, it is my earnest desire to 
know the will of Providence in this matter. And 
if I can learn what it is, I will do it. 

These are not, however, the days of miracles, 
and I suppose it will be granted that I am not to 
expect a direct revelation. I must study the plain 
physical facts of the case, ascertain what is possible, 
and learn what appears to be wise and right. 

The subject is difficult, and good men do not 
agree. For instance, the other day four gentlemen 
of standing and intelligence from New York called 
as a delegation on business connected with the 
war; but, before leaving, two of them earnestly 
beset me to proclaim general emancipation, upon 
which the other two at once attacked them. You 
know also that the last session of Congress had 
a decided majority of anti-slavery men, yet they 
could not unite on this policy. And the same is 
true of the religious people. Why, the rebel sol- 


diers are praying with a great deal more earnest- 
ness, I fear, than our own troops, and expecting 
God to favor their side; for one of our soldiers 
who had been taken prisoner told Senator Wilson 
a few days since that he met with nothing so dis- 
couraging as the evident sincerity of those he was 
among in their prayers. But we will talk over the 
merits of the case. 

What good would a proclamation of emancipa- 
tion from me do, especially as we are now situated? 
I do not want to issue a document that the whole 
world will see must necessarily be inoperative, 
like the Pope's bull against the comet. Would my 
word free the slaves, when I cannot even enforce 
the Constitution in the rebel States? Is there a 
single court, or magistrate, or individual that 
would be influenced by it there? And what reason 
is there to think it would have any greater effect 
upon the slaves than the late law of Congress, 
which I approved, and which offers protection 
and freedom to the slaves of rebel masters who 
come within our lines? Yet I cannot learn that 
that law has caused a single slave to come over to 
us. And suppose they could be induced by a proc- 
lamation of freedom from me to throw themselves 
upon us, what should we do with them? How can 


we feed and care for such a multitude? General 
Butler wrote me a few days since that he was issu- 
ing more rations to the slaves who have rushed to 
him than to all the white troops under his com- 
mand. They eat, and that is all; though it is true 
General Butler is feeding the whites also by the 
thousand, for it nearly amounts to a famine there. 
If, now, the pressure of the war should call off our 
forces from New Orleans to defend some other 
point, what is to prevent the masters from reduc- 
ing the blacks to slavery again? For I am told that 
whenever the rebels take any black prisoners, free 
or slave, they immediately auction them off. They 
did so with those they took from a boat that was 
aground in the Tennessee River a few days ago. 
And then I am very ungenerously attacked for it! 
For instance, when, after the late battles at and 
near Bull Run, an expedition went out from 
Washington under a flag of truce to bury the dead 
and bring in the wounded, and the rebels seized 
the blacks who went along to help, and sent them 
into slavery, Horace Greeley said in his paper that 
the government would probably do nothing about 
it. What could I do? 

Now, then, tell me, if you please, what possible 
result of good would follow the issuing of such a 


proclamation as you desire? Understand, I raise no 
objections against it on legal or constitutional 
grounds; for, as commander-in-chief of the army 
and navy, in time of war I suppose I have a right 
to take any measure which may best subdue the 
enemy; nor do I urge objections of a moral na- 
ture, in view of possible consequences of insurrec- 
tion and massacre at the South. 

I view this matter as a practical war measure, to 
be decided on according to the advantages or dis- 
advantages it may offer to the suppression of the 

I admit that slavery is the root of the rebellion, 
or at least its sine qua non. The ambition of poli- 
ticians may have instigated them to act, but they 
would have been impotent without slavery as their 
instrument. I will also concede that emancipation 
would help us in Europe, and convince them that 
we are incited by something more than ambition. 
I grant, further, that it would help somewhat at 
the North, though not so much, I fear, as you and 
those you represent imagine. Still some additional 
strength would be added in that way to the war, 
and then, unquestionably, it would weaken the 
rebels by drawing off their laborers, which is of 
great importance; but I am not so sure we could 


do much with the blacks. If we were to arm them, 
I fear that in a few weeks the arms would be in 
the hands of the rebels; and, indeed, thus far we 
have not had arms enough to equip our white 
troops. I will mention another thing, though it 
meet only your scorn and contempt. There are 
fifty thousand bayonets in the Union armies from 
the border slave States. It would be a serious mat- 
ter if, in consequence of a proclamation such as 
you desire, they should go over to the rebels. I do 
not think they all would— not so many, indeed, as 
a year ago, or six months ago— not so many to-day 
as yesterday. Every day increases their Union feel- 
ing. They are also getting their pride enlisted, and 
want to beat the rebels. 

Let me say one thing more: I think you should 
admit that we already have an important principle 
to rally and unite the people, in the fact that con- 
stitutional government is at stake. This is a funda- 
mental idea going down about as deep as any- 

Do not misunderstand me because I have men- 
tioned these objections. They indicate the diffi- 
culties that have thus far prevented my action in 
some such way as you desire. I have not decided 
against a proclamation of liberty to the slaves, but 


hold the matter under advisement; and I can as- 
sure you that the subject is on my mind, by day 
and night, more than any other. Whatever shall 
appear to be God's will, I will do. I trust that in 
the freedom with which I have canvassed your 
views I have not in any respect injured your 



breath alone \ills no rebels" 



'INCOLN writes Vice-President Hamlin that he is flattered 
by the comments on his Proclamation, but sadly disappointed 
in its results. 


(Strictly Private) 

Executive Mansion, Washington, September 28, 1862 

Your kind letter of the 25th is just re- 
ceived. It is known to some that while I hope 
something from the proclamation, my expectations 
are not as sanguine as are those of some friends. 
The time for its effect southward has not come; 
but northward the effect should be instantaneous. 
It is six days old, and while commendation in 
newspapers and by distinguished individuals is all 
that a vain man could wish, the stocks have de- 


clined, and troops come forward more slowly than 
ever. This, looked soberly in the face, is not very 
satisfactory. We have fewer troops in the field at 
the end of six days than we had at the beginning— 
the attrition among the old outnumbering the ad- 
dition by the new. The North responds to the 
proclamation sufficiently in breath; but breath 
alone kills no rebels. 

I wish I could write more cheerfully; nor do I 
thank you the less for the kindness of your letter. 

Yours very truly, 

A. Lincoln 



. . hardly proper for me to ma\e speeches." 



-ALLED upon for a speech at Frederick, Maryland, Lin- 
coln reiterates his great aversion to speaking when he has 
nothing to say. 


October 4, 1862 

IN my present position it is hardly proper for 
me to make speeches. Every word is so closely 
noted that it will not do to make foolish ones, and 
I cannot be expected to be prepared to make sen- 
sible ones. If I were as I have been for most of my 
life, I might, perhaps, talk nonsense to you for half 
an hour, and it wouldn't hurt anybody. As it is, 
I can only return thanks for the compliment paid 
our cause. Please accept my sincere thanks for the 
compliment to our country. 



'. . . sore'tongued and fatigued horses" 


INCOLN, despairing of ever getting McClellan to move 
against the enemy, chides his able but cautious commander 
in a terse telegraphic despatch. 


War Department, Washington City 
October 24 [25?], 1862 

I have just read your despatch about 
sore-tongued and fatigued horses. Will you pardon 
me for asking what the horses of your army have 
done since the battle of Antietam that fatigues 

A. Lincoln 



I intend no injustice.' 


'INCOLN attempts to smooth over the ruffled temper of 
McClellan but still pleads for action. 


Executive Mansion 
Washington, October 27, 1862. 12:10 P.M. 

Yours of yesterday received. Most cer- 
tainly I intend no injustice to any, and if I have 
done any I deeply regret it. To be told, after more 
than five weeks' total inaction of the army, and 
during which period we sent to the army every 
fresh horse we possibly could, amounting in the 
whole to 7,918, that the cavalry horses were too 
much fatigued to move, presents a very cheerless, 
almost hopeless, prospect for the future, and it 


may have forced something of impatience in my 
dispatch. If not recruited and rested then, when 
could they ever be? I suppose the river is rising, 
and I am glad to believe you are crossing. 

A. Lincoln 



do not thin\ this is an ill-natured letter. . . ." 



ESPERATELY needing action, Lincoln pleads again and 
again with his Generals who seize every excuse for delay. 


Executive Mansion 
Washington, November 22, 1862 



Early last week you left me in high 
hope with your assurance that you would be off 
with your expedition at the end of that week, or 
early in this. It is now the end of this, and I have 
just been overwhelmed and confounded with the 
sight of a requisition made by you which, I am as- 
sured, cannot be filled and got off within an hour 
short of two months. I inclose you a copy of the 
requisition, in some hope that it is not genuine— 
that you have never seen it. My dear general, this 
expanding and piling up of impedimenta has 


been, so far, almost our ruin, and will be our 
final ruin if it is not abandoned. If you had the 
articles of this requisition upon the wharf, with 
the necessary animals to make them of any use, 
and forage for the animals, you could not get ves- 
sels together in two weeks to carry the whole, to 
say nothing of your twenty thousand men; and 
having the vessels, you could not put the cargoes 
aboard in two weeks more. And, after all, where 
you are going you have no use for them. When 
you parted with me you had no such ideas in your 
mind. I know you had not, or you could not have 
expected to be off so soon as you said. You must get 
back to something like the plan you had then, or 
your expedition is a failure before you start. You 
must be off before Congress meets. You would be 
better off anywhere, and especially where you are 
going, for not having a thousand wagons doing 
nothing but hauling forage to feed the animals 
that draw them, and taking at least two thousand 
men to care for the wagons and animals, who 
otherwise might be two thousand good soldiers. 
Now, dear general, do not think this is an ill- 
natured letter; it is the very reverse. The simple 
publication of this requisition would ruin you. 

Very truly your friend, 

A. Lincoln 



". . . I will ma\e quic\ wor\ with them" 



HEN pay for troops in Massachusetts had been held up 
and Governor Andrew telegraphed that he could not get "quick 
work" from the paymasters responsible, Lincoln sent him this 
sizzling wire. 


PLEASE say to these gentlemen that if they 
do not work quickly I will make quick work 
with them. In the name of all that is reasonable, 
how long does it take to pay a couple of regiments? 

A. Lincoln 



"Although you were not successful. 



'INCOLN encourages the Army of the Potomac, after the 
Battle of Fredericksburg, where the Union forces suffered one 
of the most crushing defeats of the war. 


Executive Mansion 
Washington, December 22, 1862 

I have just read your commanding gen- 
eral's report of the battle of Fredericksburg. Al- 
though you were not successful, the attempt was 
not an error, nor the failure other than accident. 
The courage with which you, in an open field, 
maintained the contest against an intrenched foe, 
and the consummate skill and success with which 
you crossed and recrossed the river in the face of 
the enemy, show that you possess all the qualities 


of a great army, which will yet give victory to the 
cause of the country and of popular government. 

Condoling with the mourners for the dead, and 
sympathizing with the severely wounded, I con- 
gratulate you that the number of both is compara- 
tively so small. 

I tender to you, officers and soldiers, the thanks 
of the nation. 

A. Lincoln 



"In this sad world of ours. 


• • • 



rINCOLN consoles the daughter of his friend, Colonel 
McCullough, who died heroically fighting with Grant's army 
in Mississippi. 


Executive Mansion 
Washington, December 23, 1862 

It is with deep regret that I learn of 
the death of your kind and brave father, and espe- 
cially that it is affecting your young heart beyond 
what is common in such cases. In this sad world 
of ours sorrow comes to all, and to the young it 
comes with bittered agony because it takes them 
unawares. The older have learned ever to expect 
it. I am anxious to afford some alleviation of your 
present distress. Perfect relief is not possible, ex- 


cept with time. You cannot now realize that you 
will ever feel better. Is not this so? And yet it is 
a mistake. You are sure to be happy again. To 
know this, which is certainly true, will make you 
some less miserable now. I have had experience 
enough to know what I say, and you need only to 
believe it to feel better at once. The memory of 
your dear father, instead of an agony, will yet be 
a sad, sweet feeling in your heart, of a purer and 
holier sort than you have known before. 

Please present my kind regards to your afflicted 

Your sincere friend, 

A. Lincoln 



The Emancipation Proclamation 



.HE Emancipation Proclamation, premature though it was, 
Lincoln considered the crowning achievement of his labors. 
Secretary Seward records that on the first day of January, 
1863, when the President was about to affix his signature to 
this great document, Lincoln said, "I have been shaking hands 
since nine o'clock this morning, and my right hand is nearly 
paralyzed. If my name ever goes into history, it will be for 
this act, and my whole soul is in it. If my hand trembles when 
I sign the Proclamation all who examine the document here- 
after, will say, 'he hesitated.' " The President firmly inscribed 
his "Abraham Lincoln;" then looked up and said, "That will 


JANUARY 1, 1863 



WHEREAS, on the twenty-second day of 
September, in the year of our Lord one 
thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a procla- 
mation was issued by the President of the United 
States, containing, among other things, the fol- 
lowing, to wit: 

"That on the first day of January, in the year 
of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and 
sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any 
State, or designated part of a State, the people 
whereof shall then be in rebellion against the 
United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and 
forever free; and the Executive Government of 
the United States, including the military and naval 
authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the 
freedom of such persons, and will do no act or 
acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any 
efforts they may make for their actual freedom. 

"That the Executive will, on the first day of 


January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the 
States and parts of States, if any, in which the 
people thereof respectively shall then be in re- 
bellion against the United States; and the fact that 
any State, or the people thereof, shall on that day 
be in good faith represented in the Congress of 
the United States by members chosen thereto at 
elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters 
of such State shall have participated, shall in the 
absence of strong countervailing testimony be 
deemed conclusive evidence that such State and 
the people thereof are not then in rebellion against 
the United States/' 

Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President 
of the United States, by virtue of the power in me 
vested as commander-in-chief of the army and navy 
of the United States, in time of actual armed re- 
bellion against the authority and government of 
the United States, and as a fit and necessary war 
measure for suppressing said rebellion, do, on this 
first day of January, in the year of our Lord one 
thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and in ac- 
cordance with my purpose so to do, publicly pro- 
claimed for the full period of 100 days from the 
day first above mentioned, order and designate as 
the States and parts of States wherein the people 


thereof, respectively, are this day in rebellion 
against the United States, the following, to wit: 
Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana (except the parishes 
of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, 
St. Charles, St. James, Ascension, Assumption, 
Terre Bonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and 
Orleans, including the city of New Orleans) , Mis- 
sissippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Caro- 
lina, North Carolina, and Virginia (except the 
forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, 
and also the counties of Berkeley, Accomac, North- 
ampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Anne, and 
Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and 
Portsmouth) , and which excepted parts are for the 
present left precisely as if this proclamation were 
not issued. 

And by virtue of the power and for the purpose 
aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons 
held as slaves within said designated States and 
parts of States are, and henceforward shall be, free; 
and that the Executive Government of the United 
States, including the military and naval authori- 
ties thereof, will recognize and maintain the free- 
dom of said persons. 

And I hereby enjoin upon the people so de- 
clared to be free to abstain from all violence, un- 
less in necessary self-defense; and I recommend to 


them that, in all cases where allowed, they labor 
faithfully for reasonable wages. 

And I further declare and make known that 
such persons of suitable condition will be received 
into the armed service of the United States to garri- 
son forts, positions, stations, and other places, and 
to man vessels of all sorts in said service. 

And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an 
act of justice, warranted by the Constitution upon 
military necessity, I invoke the considerate judg- 
ment of mankind and the gracious favor of Al- 
mighty God. 

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my 
hand and caused the seal of the United States to 
be affixed. 

Done at the city of Washington, this first 
day of January, in the year of our Lord 
one thousand eight hundred and sixty- 
three, and of the independence of the 
United States of America the eighty- 

Abraham Lincoln 

By the President: 

William H. Seward, Secretary of State 



"Let the churches ta\e care of themselves." 

Vv HEN an individual in a church or out of it becomes 
dangerous to the public interest, he must be checked; but let 
the churches, as such, take care of themselves," counsels the 
President in a letter to his Commander of the Department of 


Executive Mansion 
Washington, January 2, 1863 

Yours of December 29 by the hand of 
Mr. Strong is just received. The day I telegraphed 
you suspending the order in relation to Dr. 
McPheeters, he, with Mr. Bates, the Attorney-Gen- 
eral, appeared before me and left with me a copy 
of the order mentioned. The doctor also showed 
me the copy of an oath which he said he had taken, 


which is, indeed, very strong and specific. He also 
verbally assured me that he had constantly prayed 
in church for the President and government, as he 
had always done before the present war. In look- 
ing over the recitals in your order, I do not see that 
this matter of prayer, as he states it, is negatived, 
nor that any violation of his oath is charged, nor, in 
fact, that anything specific is alleged against him. 
The charges are all general: that he has a rebel 
wife and rebel relations, that he sympathizes with 
rebels, and that he exercises rebel influence. Now, 
after talking with him, I tell you frankly I believe 
he does sympathize with the rebels, but the ques- 
tion remains whether such a man, of unquestioned 
good moral character, who has taken such an oath 
as he has, and cannot even be charged with violat- 
ing it, and who can be charged with no other 
specific act or omission, can, with safety to the 
government, be exiled upon the suspicion of his 
secret sympathies. But I agree that this must be 
left to you, who are on the spot; and if, after all, 
you think the public good requires his removal, 
my suspension of the order is withdrawn, only 
with this qualification, that the time during the 
suspension is not to be counted against him. I have 
promised him this. But I must add that the United 


States Government must not, as by this order, 
undertake to run the churches. When an indi- 
vidual in a church or out of it becomes dangerous 
to the public interest, he must be checked; but 
let the churches, as such, take care of themselves. 
It will not do for the United States to appoint 
trustees, supervisors, or other agents for the 

Yours very truly, 

A. Lincoln 



I will ris\ the dictatorship. . . ." 



'INCOLN was having nothing but trouble with the Army 
of the Potomac. McClellan had been too wary; Burnside had 
been too rash. And now the President was to have thrust upon 
him, by the pressure of a disapproving Senate, a general of 
questionable merit. In one of his most remarkable letters, 
Lincoln warns his new general, without resentment but with 
amazing directness, of the faults he must surmount if he is to 


Executive Mansion 
Washington, D. C., January 26, 1863 

I have placed you at the head of the 
Army of the Potomac. Of course I have done this 
upon what appear to me to be sufficient reasons. 
And yet I think it best for you to know that there 


are some things in regard to which, I am not quite 
satisfied with you. I believe you to be a brave and 
skilful soldier, which, of course, I like. I also be- 
lieve you do not mix politics with your profession, 
in which you are right. You have confidence in 
yourself, which is a valuable, if not an indispens- 
able quality. You are ambitious, which, within 
reasonable bounds, does good rather than harm. 
But I think that during Gen. Burnside's com- 
mand of the Army, you have taken counsel of your 
ambition, and thwarted him as much as you could, 
in which you did a great wrong to the country, and 
to a most meritorious and honorable brother 
officer. I have heard, in such a way as to believe it, 
of your recently saying that both the army and 
the government needed a dictator. Of course it was 
not for this, but in spite of it, that I have given 
you the command. Only those generals who gain 
successes can set up dictators. What I now ask of 
you is military success, and I will risk the dictator- 
ship. The government will support you to the ut- 
most of its ability, which is neither more nor less 
than it has done and will do for all commanders. 
I much fear that the spirit which you have aided 
to infuse into the army, of criticising their com- 
mander and withholding confidence from him, 


will now turn upon you. I shall assist you as far 
as I can to put it down. Neither you nor Napoleon, 
if he were alive again, could get any good out of 
an army while such a spirit prevails in it; and 
now beware of rashness. Beware of rashness, but 
with energy and sleepless vigilance go forward and 
give us victories. 

Yours very truly, 

A. Lincoln 



"You and I are substantially strangers. 



'INCOLN makes a friendly overture to one of the bitterest 
enemies of his administration, Governor Seymour of New York. 


March, 1863 

You and I are substantially strangers, 
and I write this chiefly that we may become better 
acquainted. I, for the time being, am at the head 
of a nation which is in great peril, and you are at 
the head of the greatest State of that nation. As to 
maintaining the nation's life and integrity, I as- 
sume and believe there cannot be a difference of 
purpose between you and me. If we should differ 
as to the means, it is important that such differ- 
ence should be as small as possible; that it should 
not be enhanced by unjust suspicions on one side 
or the other. In the performance of my duty the 

[165 1 

cooperation of your State, as that of others, is 
needed— in fact, is indispensable. This alone is a 
sufficient reason why I should wish to be at a good 
understanding with you. Please write me at least 
as long a letter as this, of course saying in it just 
what you think fit. 

A. Lincoln 



li\e an ox jumped half over the fence. . . ." 


1EPING an ever closer eye on the operations of his army, 
Lincoln warns General Hooker to be alert and not to fall 
into Lee's trap. 

Washington, June 5, 1863. 4 P.M. 

Yours of to-day was received an hour 
ago. So much of professional military skill is requi- 
site to answer it, that I have turned the task over 
to General Halleck. He promises to perform it 
with his utmost care. I have but one idea which 
I think worth suggesting to you, and that is, in 
case you find Lee coming to the north of the Rap- 
pahannock, I would by no means cross to the south 
of it. If he should leave a rear force at Fredericks- 
burg, tempting you to fall upon it, it would fight 


in intrenchments and have you at disadvantage, 
and so, man for man, worst you at that point, 
while his main force would in some way be getting 
an advantage of you northward. In one word, I 
would not take any risk of being entangled upon 
the river, like an ox jumped half over a fence and 
liable to be torn by dogs front and rear without a 
fair chance to gore one way or kick the other. If 
Lee would come to my side of the river, I would 
keep on the same side, and fight him or act on the 
defense, according as might be my estimate of 
his strength relatively to my own. But these are 
mere suggestions which I desire to be controlled 
by the judgment of yourself and General Halleck. 

A. Lincoln 



'If you are besieged. 


N urgent S.O.S. from General Tyler draws a pertinent, 
if not impertinent, response from his much harried Com- 


War Department, June 14, 1863 

If you are besieged how do you 
despatch me? Why did you not leave before being 

A. Lincoln 


Lincoln s Shortest Speech 

JLHIS one-sentence speech, delivered at the flag-raising be- 
fore the Treasury Building, is very likely the briefest address 
ever given upon a public occasion. 


THE part assigned to me is to raise the flag, 
which, if there be no fault in the ma- 
chinery, I will do, and when up, it will be for the 
people to keep it up. 


"Beware of being assailed by one 

and praised by the other" 


'INCOLN tells his new Commander in Missouri how best 
to preserve peace among the quarrelsome factions in his terri- 

Executive Mansion, May 27, 1863 

Having relieved General Curtis and 
assigned you to the command of the Department 
of the Missouri, I think it may be of some ad- 
vantage for me to state to you why I did it. I did 
not relieve General Curtis because of any full con- 
viction that he had done wrong by commission 
or omission. I did it because of a conviction in 
my mind that the Union men of Missouri, con- 
stituting, when united, a vast majority of the whole 


people, have entered into a pestilent factional 
quarrel among themselves— General Curtis, per- 
haps not of choice, being the head of one faction 
and Governor Gamble that of the other. After 
months of labor to reconcile the difficulty, it 
seemed to grow worse and worse, until I felt it my 
duty to break it up somehow; and as I could not 
remove Governor Gamble, I had to remove Gen- 
eral Curtis. Now that you are in the position, I 
wish you to undo nothing merely because General 
Curtis or Governor Gamble did it, but to exercise 
your own judgment, and do right for the public 
interest. Let your military measures be strong 
enough to repel the invader and keep the peace, 
and not so strong as to unnecessarily harass and 
persecute the people. It is a difficult role, and so 
much greater will be the honor if you perform it 
well. If both factions, or neither, shall abuse you, 
you will probably be about right. Beware of being 
assailed by one and praised by the other. 

Yours truly, 

A. Lincoln 



. . this is a glorious theme ' 



N an impromptu speech Lincoln points to the many unique 
coincidences which occurred on the 4th of July, including the 
deaths of Presidents Jefferson, Adams, Monroe, and the vic- 
tories just gained at Gettysburg and Vicksburg. 


July 7, 1863 

I am very glad indeed to see you to- 
night, and yet I will not say I thank you for this 
call; but I do most sincerely thank Almighty God 
for the occasion on which you have called. How 
long ago is it?— eighty-odd years since, on the 
Fourth of July, for the first time in the history of 
the world, a nation, by its representatives, assem- 
bled and declared, as a self-evident truth, "that 
all men are created equal." That was the birthday 


of the United States of America. Since then the 
Fourth of July has had several very peculiar rec- 
ognitions. The two men most distinguished in the 
framing and support of the Declaration were 
Thomas Jefferson and John Adams— the one hav- 
ing penned it, and the other sustained it the most 
forcibly in debate— the only two of the fifty-five 
who signed it that were elected Presidents of the 
United States. Precisely fifty years after they put 
their hands to the paper, it pleased Almighty God 
to take both from this stage of action. This was 
indeed an extraordinary and remarkable event in 
our history. Another President, five years after, 
was called from this stage of existence on the same 
day and month of the year; and now on this last 
Fourth of July just passed, when we have a gi- 
gantic rebellion, at the bottom of which is an 
effort to overthrow the principle that all men are 
created equal, we have the surrender of a most 
powerful position and army on that very day. And 
not only so, but in a succession of battles in Penn- 
sylvania, near to us, through three days, so rapidly 
fought that they might be called one great battle, 
on the first, second, and third of the month of 
July; and on the fourth the cohorts of those who 
opposed the Declaration that all men are created 


equal "turned tail" and run. Gentlemen, this is 
a glorious theme, and the occasion for a speech, 
but I am not prepared to make one worthy of the 
occasion. I would like to speak in terms of praise 
due to the many brave officers and soldiers who 
have fought in the cause of the Union and liber- 
ties of their country from the beginning of the 
war. These are trying occasions, not only in suc- 
cess, but for the want of success. I dislike to men- 
tion the name of one single officer, lest I might 
do wrong to those I might forget. Recent events 
bring up glorious names, and particularly promi- 
nent ones; but these I will not mention. Having 
said this much, I will now take the music. 



you were right and I was wrong" 



rINCOLN expresses his appreciation for the all-important 
victory at Vicksburg and, with characteristic frankness, admits 
that his own theories had been proved wrong. 


Executive Mansion, July 13, 1863 



I do not remember that you and I ever 
met personally. I write this now as a grateful ac- 
knowledgment for the almost inestimable service 
you have done the country. I wish to say a word 
further. When you first reached the vicinity of 
Vicksburg, I thought you should do what you 
finally did— march the troops across the neck, run 
the batteries with the transports, and thus go be- 
low; and I never had any faith, except a general 
hope that you knew better than I, that the Yazoo 


Pass expedition and the like could succeed. When 
you got below and took Port Gibson, Grand Gulf, 
and vicinity, I thought you should go down the 
river and join General Banks, and when you turned 
northward, east of the Big Black, I feared it was a 
mistake. I now wish to make the personal acknowl- 
edgment that you were right and I was wrong. 

Yours very truly, 

A. Lincoln 



The Letter Lincoln Wrote But Did 7<iot Send 


-OST military authorities agreed that had General Meade 
pursued his advantage after his victory at Gettysburg, the war 
might have been ended then and there. Overcome with grief, 
Lincoln wrote this reproachful letter — mild enough, in view 
of the magnitude of the error— but never sent it, knowing the 
loss to be irreparable. 


Executive Mansion 
Washington, D. C., July 14, 1863 

I have just seen your despatch to Gen- 
eral Halleck, asking to be relieved of your com- 
mand because of a supposed censure of mine. I 
am very, very grateful to you for the magnificent 
success you gave the cause of the country at Gettys- 
burg; and I am sorry now to be the author of 


the slightest pain to you. But I was in such deep 
distress myself that I could not restrain some ex- 
pression of it. I have been oppressed nearly ever 
since the battles of Gettysburg by what appeared 
to be evidences that yourself and General Couch 
and General Smith were not seeking a collision 
with the enemy, but were trying to get him across 
the river without another battle. What these evi- 
dences were, if you please, I hope to tell you at 
some time when we shall both feel better. The 
case, summarily stated, is this: You fought and beat 
the enemy at Gettysburg and, of course, to say 
the least, his loss was as great as yours. He re- 
treated, and you did not, as it seemed to me, pres- 
singly pursue him; but a flood in the river de- 
tained him till, by slow degrees, you were again 
upon him. You had at least twenty thousand vet- 
eran troops directly with you, and as many more 
raw ones within supporting distance, all in addi- 
tion to those who fought with you at Gettysburg, 
while it was not possible that he had received a 
single recruit, and yet you stood and let the flood 
run down, bridges be built, and the enemy move 
away at his leisure without attacking him. And 
Couch and Smith! The latter left Carlisle in time, 
upon all ordinary calculation, to have aided you 


in the last battle at Gettysburg, but he did not 
arrive. At the end of more than ten days, I believe 
twelve, under constant urging, he reached Hagers- 
town from Carlisle, which is not an inch over fifty- 
five miles, if so much, and Couch's movement was 
very little different. 

Again, my dear general, I do not believe you 
appreciate the magnitude of the misfortune in- 
volved in Lee's escape. He was within your easy 
grasp, and to have closed upon him would, in 
connection with our other late successes, have 
ended the war. As it is, the war will be prolonged 
indefinitely. If you could not safely attack Lee last 
Monday, how can you possibly do so south of the 
river, when you can take with you very few more 
than two thirds of the force you then had in hand? 

It would be unreasonable to expect, and I do 
not expect [that], you can now effect much. Your 
golden opportunity is gone, and I am distressed 
immeasurably because of it. 

I beg you will not consider this a prosecution 
or persecution of yourself. As you had learned that 
I was dissatisfied, I have thought it best to kindly 
tell you why. 


without criticism for what was not done" 

NE week after he has magnanimously withheld his letter 
of censure to General Meade, Lincoln informs General Howard 
that he is "profoundly grateful for what was done, without 
criticism for what was not done." 


Executive Mansion, July 21, 1863 

Your letter of the 18th is received. I 
was deeply mortified by the escape of Lee across 
the Potomac, because the substantial destruction 
of his army would have ended the war, and be- 
cause I believed such destruction was perfectly 
easy— believed that General Meade and his noble 
army had expended all the skill, and toil, and 
blood, up to the ripe harvest, and then let the crop 
go to waste. 


Perhaps my mortification was heightened be- 
cause I had always believed— making my belief a 
hobby, possibly— that the main rebel army going 
north of the Potomac could never return, if well 
attended to; and because I was so greatly flattered 
in this belief by the operations at Gettysburg. A 
few days having passed, I am now profoundly 
grateful for what was done, without criticism for 
what was not done. 

General Meade has my confidence as a brave 
and skilful officer and a true man. 

Yours very truly, 

A. Lincoln 



'. . . they have the better right. . . 



'INCOLN seized every possible opportunity to express his 
gratitude to those "who bear the chief burthen of saving our 
country/' This is the third of three letters selected by John G. 
Nicolay as representative of Lincoln at his best. 


Executive Mansion, July 24, 1863 


Yesterday little endorsements of mine 
went to you in two cases of postmasterships sought 
for widows whose husbands have fallen in the bat- 
tles of this war. These cases occurring on the same 
day brought me to reflect more attentively than 
I had before done, as to what is fairly due from 
us here in the dispensing of patronage toward the 
men who, by fighting our battles, bear the chief 


burthen of saving our country. My conclusion is 
that, other claims and qualifications being equal, 
they have the better right; and this is especially 
applicable to the disabled soldier and the deceased 
soldier's family. 

Your obedient servant, 

A. Lincoln 



". . . no successful appeal from the ballot 
to the bullet. . . ." 



,S a rule, a message of more than six pages would not be 
considered a model of brevity, but into this letter, written to 
be read at a Republican meeting in Springfield, Lincoln com- 
presses a lifetime of philosophy. 


Executive Mansion, August 26, 1863 

Your letter inviting me to attend a 
mass-meeting of unconditional Union men, to be 
held at the capital of Illinois on the 3d day of 
September has been received. It would be very 
agreeable to me to thus meet my old friends at 
my own home, but I cannot just now be absent 
from here so long as a visit there would require. 
The meeting is to be of all those who maintain 


unconditional devotion to the Union; and I am 
sure my old political friends will thank me for 
tendering, as I do, the nation's gratitude to those 
and other noble men whom no partisan malice 
or partisan hope can make false to the nation's life. 
There are those who are dissatisfied with me. 
To such I would say: You desire peace, and you 
blame me that we do not have it. But how can we 
attain it? There are but three conceivable ways: 
First, to suppress the rebellion by force of arms. 
This I am trying to do. Are you for it? If you are, 
so far we are agreed. If you are not for it, a second 
way is to give up the Union. I am against this. 
Are you for it? If you are, you should say so plainly. 
If you are not for force, nor yet for dissolution, 
there only remains some imaginable compromise. 
I do not believe any compromise embracing the 
maintenance of the Union is now possible. All I 
learn leads to a directly opposite belief. The 
strength of the rebellion is its military, its army. 
That army dominates all the country and all the 
people within its range. Any offer of terms made 
by any man or men within that range, in opposi- 
tion to that army, is simply nothing for the pres- 
ent, because such man or men have no power 
whatever to enforce their side of a compromise, if 
one were made with them. 


To illustrate: Suppose refugees from the South 
and peace men of the North get together in con- 
vention, and frame and proclaim a compromise 
embracing a restoration of the Union. In what way 
can that compromise be used to keep Lee's army 
out of Pennsylvania? Meade's army can keep Lee's 
army out of Pennsylvania, and, I think, can ul- 
timately drive it out of existence. But no paper 
compromise to which the controllers of Lee's army 
are not agreed can at all affect that army. In an 
effort at such compromise we should waste time 
which the enemy would improve to our disad- 
vantage; and that would be all. A compromise, to 
be effective, must be made either with those who 
control the rebel army, or with the people first 
liberated from the domination of that army by 
the success of our own army. Now, allow me to 
assure you that no word or intimation from that 
rebel army, or from any of the men controlling it, 
in relation to any peace compromise, has ever 
come to my knowledge or belief. All charges and 
insinuations to the contrary are deceptive and 
groundless. And I promise you that if any such 
proposition shall hereafter come, it shall not be 
rejected and kept a secret from you. I freely 
acknowledge myself the servant of the people, ac- 


cording to the bond of service— the United States 
Constitution— and that, as such, I am responsible 
to them. 

But to be plain. You are dissatisfied with me 
about the negro. Quite likely there is a difference 
of opinion between you and myself upon that sub- 
ject. I certainly wish that all men could be free, 
while I suppose you do not. Yet, I have neither 
adopted nor proposed any measure which is not 
consistent with even your view, provided you are 
for the Union. I suggested compensated emanci- 
pation, to which you replied you wished not to 
be taxed to buy negroes. But I had not asked you 
to be taxed to buy negroes, except in such way 
as to save you from greater taxation to save the 
Union exclusively by other means. 

You dislike the emancipation proclamation, and 
perhaps would have it retracted. You say it is un- 
constitutional. I think differently. I think the Con- 
stitution invests its commander-in-chief with the 
law of war in time of war. The most that can be 
said— if so much— is that slaves are property. Is 
there— has there ever been— any question that by 
the law of war, property, both of enemies and 
friends, may be taken when needed? And is it not 
needed whenever taking it helps us, or hurts the 


enemy? Armies, the world over, destroy enemies* 
property when they cannot use it; and even destroy 
their own to keep it from the enemy. Civilized 
belligerents do all in their power to help them- 
selves or hurt the enemy, except a few things 
regarded as barbarous or cruel. Among the excep- 
tions are the massacre of vanquished foes and non- 
combatants, male and female. 

But the proclamation, as law, either is valid or 
is not valid. If it is not valid, it needs no retraction. 
If it is valid, it cannot be retracted any more than 
the dead can be brought to life. Some of you pro- 
fess to think its retraction would operate favorably 
for the Union. Why better after the retraction 
than before the issue? There was more than a 
year and a half of trial to suppress the rebellion 
before the proclamation issued; the last one hun- 
dred days of which passed under an explicit notice 
that it was coming, unless averted by those in revolt 
returning to their allegiance. The war has cer- 
tainly progressed as favorably for us since the issue 
of the proclamation as before. 

You say you will not fight to free negroes. Some 
of them seem willing to fight for you; but no 
matter. Fight you, then, exclusively, to save the 
Union. I issued the proclamation on purpose to 



aid you in saving the Union. Whenever you shall 
have conquered all resistance to the Union, if I 
shall urge you to continue fighting, it will be an 
apt time then for you to declare you will not fight 
to free negroes. 

I thought that in your struggle for the Union, 
to whatever extent the negroes should cease help- 
ing the enemy, to that extent it weakened the 
enemy in his resistance to you. Do you think dif- 
ferently? I thought that whatever negroes can be 
got to do as soldiers, leaves just so much less for 
white soldiers to do in saving the Union. Does it 
appear otherwise to you? But negroes, like other 
people, act upon motives. Why should they do 
anything for us if we will do nothing for them? If 
they stake their lives for us they must be prompted 
by the strongest motive, even the promise of free- 
dom. And the promise, being made, must be kept. 

The signs look better. The Father of Waters 
again goes unvexed to the sea. Thanks to the great 
Northwest for it. Nor yet wholly to them. Three 
hundred miles up they met New England, Empire, 
Keystone, and Jersey, hewing their way right and 
left. The sunny South, too, in more colors than 
one, also lent a hand. On the spot, their part of 
the history was jotted down in black and white. 


The job was a great national one, and let none be 
banned who bore an honorable part in it. And 
while those who have cleared the great river may 
well be proud, even that is not all. It is hard to 
say that anything has been more bravely and well 
done than at Antietam, Murfreesboro', Gettys- 
burg, and on many fields of lesser note. Nor must 
Uncle Sam's web-feet be forgotten. At all the 
watery margins they have been present. Not only 
on the deep sea, the broad bay, and the rapid 
river, but also up the narrow, muddy bayou, and 
wherever the ground was a little damp, they have 
been and made their tracks. Thanks to all: for 
the great republic— for the principle it lives by 
and keeps alive— for man's vast future— thanks to 

Peace does not appear so distant as it did. I hope 
it will come soon, and come to stay: and so come 
as to be worth the keeping in all future time. It 
will then have been proved that among free men 
there can be no successful appeal from the ballot 
to the bullet, and that they who take such appeal 
are sure to lose their case and pay the cost. And 
then there will be some black men who can re- 
member that with silent tongue, and clenched 
teeth, and steady eye, and well-poised bayonet, 


they have helped mankind on to this great con- 
summation, while I fear there will be some white 
ones unable to forget that with malignant heart 
and deceitful speech they strove to hinder it. 

Still, let us not be over-sanguine of a speedy 
final triumph. Let us be quite sober. Let us dili- 
gently apply the means, never doubting that a 
just God, in his own good time, will give us the 
rightful result. 

Yours very truly, 

A. Lincoln 



". . . the plain truth. . . ." 


VJENERAL ROSECRANS, Commander of the Army of 
Cumberland, was another "problem child" of Lincoln's. When 
the President's repeated prodding finally penetrated "Old 
Rosy's" skin, Lincoln was quick to apply the palliative. 


Executive Mansion, August 31, 1863 

Yours of the 22d was received yesterday. 
When I wrote you before, I did [not] intend, nor 
do I now, to engage in an argument with you on 
military questions. You had informed me you 
were impressed through General Halleck that I 
was dissatisfied with you; and I could not bluntly 
deny that I was without unjustly implicating him. 
I therefore concluded to tell you the plain truth, 


being satisfied the matter would thus appear much 
smaller than it would if seen by mere glimpses. 
I repeat that my appreciation of you has not 
abated. I can never forget whilst I remember any- 
thing that about the end of last year and begin- 
ning of this, you gave us a hard-earned victory, 
which, had there been a defeat instead, the nation 
could scarcely have lived over. Neither can I for- 
get the check you so opportunely gave to a dan- 
gerous sentiment which was spreading in the 

Yours as ever, 

A. Lincoln 



"This nation already has a quarter 'master 'general. 



INCOLN's unfailing sense of humor would sometimes get 
him into trouble, as in this amusing incident told by the two 
following dispatches. 


Washington, September 13, 1863 

What nation do you desire General 
Allen to be made quarter-master-general of? This 
nation already has a quarter-master-general. 

A. Lincoln 



Executive Mansion, September 22, 1863 


Your letter is just received. The par- 
ticular form of my despatch was jocular, which I 
supposed you gentlemen knew me well enough to 
understand. General Allen is considered here as a 
very faithful and capable officer, and one who 
would be at least thought of for quartermaster- 
general if that office were vacant. 

A. Lincoln 



". . . by commission or omission, . . ." 



HURLOW WEED'S sudden coolness toward the President 
leads Lincoln to believe that he has in some way offended the 
prominent politico. 


Executive Mansion, October 14, 1863 

I have been brought to fear recently 
that somehow, by commission or omission, I have 
caused you some degree of pain. I have never en- 
tertained an unkind feeling or a disparaging 
thought toward you; and if I have said or done 
anything which has been construed into such un- 
kindness or disparagement, it has been miscon- 
strued. I arn sure if we could meet we would not 
part with any unpleasant impression on either 

Slde * Yours as ever, 

A. Lincoln 



". . . if Fran\ Blair were my brother. . . ." 


JLO Postmaster-General Montgomery Blair Lincoln writes a 
Chesterfieldian letter full of friendly advice for the welfare of 
Blair's brother. 


Executive Mansion 
Washington, D. C, November 2, 1863 

Some days ago I understood you to say 
that your brother, General Frank Blair, desires 
to be guided by my wishes as to whether he will 
occupy his seat in Congress or remain in the field. 
My wish, then, is compounded of what I believe 
will be best for the country and best for him, and 
it is that he will come here, put his military com- 
mission in my hands, take his seat, go into caucus 
with our friends, abide the nominations, help elect 


the nominees, and thus aid to organize a House of 
Representatives which will really support the gov- 
ernment in the war. If the result shall be the elec- 
tion of himself as Speaker, let him serve in that 
position; if not, let him retake his commission and 
return to the army. For the country this will heal 
a dangerous schism; for him it will relieve from a 
dangerous position. By a misunderstanding, as I 
think, he is in danger of being permanently sepa- 
rated from those with whom only he can ever have 
a real sympathy— the sincere opponents of slavery. 
It will be a mistake if he shall allow the provoca- 
tions offered him by insincere time-servers to drive 
him out of the house of his own building. He is 
young yet. He has abundant talent— quite enough 
to occupy all his time without devoting any to 
temper. He is rising in military skill and useful- 
ness. His recent appointment to the command of 
a corps by one so competent to judge as General 
Sherman proves this. In that line he can serve both 
the country and himself more profitably than he 
could as a member of Congress on the floor. The 
foregoing is what I would say if Frank Blair were 
my brother instead of yours. 

Yours truly, 

A. Lincoln 


here's your autograph.' 


.LTHOUGH very likely apocryphal, and not consistent 
with Lincoln's usual courteous treatment of all requests for 
favors— no matter how small— this terse note is included be- 
cause it has been so often quoted. 





When you ask from a stranger that 
which is of interest only to yourself, always en- 
close a stamp. There's your sentiment, and here's 
your autograph. 

A. Lincoln 



'. . . not quite free from ridicule.' 



LINCOLN assures the Shakespearean actor, James H. 
Hackett, that he need not be uneasy jo* having allowed one of 
the President's letters to get into the hands of the press. 



Washington, D. C, November 2, 1863 



Yours of October 22 is received, as also 
was in due course that of October 3. I look for- 
ward with pleasure to the fulfilment of the promise 
made in the former. 

Give yourself no uneasiness on the subject men- 
tioned in that of the 22d. 

My note to you I certainly did not expect to 
see in print; yet I have not been much shocked by 
the newspaper comments upon it. Those com- 


merits constitute a fair specimen of what has oc- 
curred to me through life. I have endured a great 
deal of ridicule without much malice; and have 
received a great deal of kindness, not quite free 
from ridicule. I am used to it. 

Yours truly, 

A. Lincoln 



the exact shade of Julius Caesar s hair.' 



.ANY different interpretations have been placed by 
biographers upon these laconic lines of Lincoln. One of the 
most plausible is that of Jesse W. Weik, who said, "He be- 
lieved there were other if not better ways of determining a 
man's fitness for a given task or position than the regulation 
test questions." 


Executive Mansion, November 11, 1863 

I personally wish Jacob Freese, of New 
Jersey, to be appointed colonel for a colored regi- 
ment, and this regardless of whether he can tell the 
exact shade of Julius Caesar's hair. 

Yours, etc., 

A. Lincoln 


The Gettysburg Address 

JlHE Gettysburg Address, which gained immortality for its 
author, and ranks as one of the greatest speeches in the Eng- 
lish language, consists of only 10 sentences and 266 words, of 
which 193 are one-syllable words; and took but two short min- 
utes to deliver. 


November 19, 1863 

FOURSCORE and seven years ago our fathers 
brought forth on this continent a new nation, 
conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the propo- 
sition that all men are created equal. 

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing 
whether that nation, or any nation so conceived 
and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on 
a great battle-field of that war. We have come to 


dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting- 
place for those who here gave their lives that that 
nation might live. It is altogether fitting and 
proper that we should do this. 

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate— we 
cannot consecrate— we cannot hallow— this ground. 
The brave men, living and dead, who struggled 
here, have consecrated it far above our poor power 
to add or detract. The world will little note nor 
long remember what we say here, but it can never 
forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, 
rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work 
which they who fought here have thus far so nobly 
advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated 
to the great task remaining before us— that from 
these honored dead we take increased devotion to 
that cause for which they gave the last full measure 
of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these 
dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, 
under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; 
and that government of the people, by the people, 
for the people, shall not perish from the earth. 



". . . you could not have been excused to ma\e 
a short address, nor I a long one" 



OLLOWING the ceremonies at Gettysburg, Edward Ev- 
erett, who was the principal speaker of the day, wrote to 
Lincoln, "I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came 
as near the central idea of the occasion in two hours as you 
did in two minutes/* 


Executive Mansion 
Washington, D. C, November 20, 1863 

Your kind note of to-day is received. 
In our respective parts yesterday, you could not 
have been excused to make a short address, nor I a 
long one. I am pleased to know that, in your judg- 
ment, the little I did say was not entirely a failure. 
Of course I knew Mr. Everett would not fail, 


and yet, while the whole discourse was eminently 
satisfactory, and will be of great value, there were 
passages in it which transcended my expectations. 

The point made against the theory of the Gen- 
eral Government being only an agency whose 
principals are the States, was new to me, and, as I 
think, is one of the best arguments for the na- 
tional supremacy. The tribute to our noble women 
for their angel ministering to the suffering soldiers 
surpasses in its way, as do the subjects of it, what- 
ever has gone before. 

Our sick boy, for whom you kindly inquire, we 
hope is past the worst. 

Your obedient servant, 

A. Lincoln 



'An intelligent woman in deep distress. . . ." 

N November 20, 1863 Lincoln wired Meade, "If there is 
a man by the name of King under sentence to be shot, please 
suspend execution till further order and send record." This 
explanatory letter followed. 


Executive Mansion, November 20, 1863 



An intelligent woman in deep distress, 
called this morning, saying her husband, a lieu- 
tenant in the Army of Potomac, was to be shot next 
Monday for desertion, and putting a letter in 
my hand, upon which I relied for particulars, 
she left without mentioning a name or other par- 
ticular by which to identify the case. On open- 
ing the letter I found it equally vague, having 


nothing to identify by, except her own signature, 
which seems to be "Mrs. Anna S. King." I could 
not again find her. If you have a case which you 
shall think is probably the one intended, please 
apply my despatch of this morning to it. 

A. Lincoln 



if the man does no wrong hereafter. 


HE principle expressed in this brief endorsement on a 
document submitted to the Secretary of War, premised Lin- 
coln's whole theory of Reconstruction. 


February 5, 1864 


On principle I dislike an oath which re- 
quires a man to swear he has not done wrong. It 
rejects the Christian principle of forgiveness on 
terms of repentance. I think it is enough if the 
man does no wrong hereafter. 

A. Lincoln 



". . . I do not perceive occasion for a changed 



N early 1864 a committee, headed by Senator Pomeroy of 
Kansas, created considerable clamor by publishing a letter 
vigorously attacking Lincoln and advocating Secretary of the 
Treasury Salmon P. Chase for the presidency. Somewhat taken 
aback, Chase wrote to Lincoln disclaiming any knowledge of 
the letter and saying, "If there is any thing in my action or 
position, which in your judgment will prejudice the public 
interest under my charge, I beg you to say so. I do not wish 
to administer the Treasury Department one day without your 
entire confidence/' Lincoln deferred answering for a few days 
and then replied with his customary greatness of spirit. 


Executive Mansion, February 29, 1864 

I would have taken time to answer 
yours of the 22d sooner, only that I did not sup- 


pose any evil could result from the delay, espe- 
cially as, by a note, I promptly acknowledged the 
receipt of yours, and promised a fuller answer. 
Now, on consideration, I find there is really very 
little to say. My knowledge of Mr. Pomeroy's let- 
ter having been made public came to me only the 
day you wrote but I had, in spite of myself, known 
of its existence several days before. I have not yet 
read it, and I think I shall not. I was not shocked 
or surprised by the appearance of the letter, be- 
cause I had had knowledge of Mr. Pomeroy's com- 
mittee, and of secret issues which I supposed came 
from it, and of secret agents who I supposed were 
sent out by it, for several weeks. I have known just 
as little of these things as my friends have allowed 
me to know. They bring the documents to me, but 
I do not read them; they tell me what they think fit 
to tell me, but I do not inquire for more. I fully 
concur with you that neither of us can be justly 
held responsible for what our respective friends 
may do without our instigation or countenance; 
and I assure you, as you have assured me, that no 
assault has been made upon you by my investiga- 
tion or with my countenance. Whether you shall 
remain at the head of the Treasury Department is 
a question which I will not allow myself to con- 


sider from any standpoint other than my judg- 
ment of the public service, and, in that view, I do 
not perceive occasion for a change. 

Yours truly, 

A. Lincoln 



"God alone can claim it." 


JLWO of Lincoln's best letters on slavery were written to 
Kentuckians—the first to Joshua Speed in 1855 and this one 
to A. G. Hodges nine years later. 


Executive Mansion, April 4, 1864 

You ask me to put in writing the sub- 
stance of what I verbally said the other day in your 
presence, to Governor Bramlette and Senator 
Dixon. It was about as follows: 

"I am naturally antislavery. If slavery is not 
wrong, nothing is wrong. I cannot remember when 
I did not so think and feel, and yet I have never 
understood that the presidency conferred upon me 
an unrestricted right to act officially upon this 
judgment and feeling. It was in the oath I took 


that I would, to the best of my ability, preserve, 
protect, and defend the Constitution of the United 
States. I could not take the office without taking 
the oath. Nor was it my view that I might take an 
oath to get power, and break the oath in using the 
power. I understood, too, that in ordinary civil 
administration this oath even forbade me to prac- 
tically indulge my primary abstract judgment on 
the moral question of slavery. I had publicly de- 
clared this many times, and in many ways. And I 
aver that, to this day, I have done no official act 
in mere deference to my abstract judgment and 
feeling on slavery. I did understand, however, that 
my oath to preserve the Constitution to the best 
of my ability imposed upon me the duty of pre- 
serving, by every indispensable means, that gov- 
ernment—that nation, of which that Constitution 
was the organic law. Was it possible to lose the 
nation and yet preserve the Constitution? By gen- 
eral law, life and limb must be protected, yet often 
a limb must be amputated to save a life; but a life 
is never wisely given to save a limb. I felt that 
measures otherwise unconstitutional might be- 
come lawful by becoming indispensable to the 
preservation of the Constitution through the 
preservation of the nation. Right or wrong, I as- 


sume this ground, and now avow it. I could not 
feel that, to the best of my ability, I had even tried 
to preserve the Constitution, if, to save slavery or 
any minor matter, I should permit the wreck of 
government, country, and Constitution all to- 
gether. When, early in the war, General Fremont 
attempted military emancipation, I forbade it, be- 
cause I did not then think it an indispensable 
necessity. When, a little later, General Cameron, 
then Secretary of War, suggested the arming of the 
blacks, I objected because I did not yet think it an 
indispensable necessity. When, still later, General 
Hunter attempted military emancipation, I again 
forbade it, because I did not yet think the indis- 
pensable necessity had come. When in March and 
May and July, 1862, I made earnest and successive 
appeals to the border States to favor compensated 
emancipation, I believed the indispensable neces- 
sity for military emancipation and arming the 
blacks would come unless averted by that meas- 
ure. They declined the proposition, and I was, in 
my best judgment, driven to the alternative of 
either surrendering the Union, and with it the 
Constitution, or of laying strong hand upon the 
colored element. I chose the latter. In choosing it, 
I hoped for greater gain than loss; but of this, I 


was not entirely confident. More than a year of 
trial now shows no loss by it in our foreign rela- 
tions, none in our home popular sentiment, none 
in our white military force— no loss by it anyhow 
or anywhere. On the contrary it shows a gain of 
quite a hundred and thirty thousand soldiers, sea- 
men, and laborers. These are palpable facts, about 
which, as facts, there can be no caviling. We have 
the men; and we could not have had them without 
the measure. 

"And now let any Union man who complains 
of the measure test himself by writing down in one 
line that he is for subduing the rebellion by force 
of arms; and in the next, that he is for taking 
these hundred and thirty thousand men from the 
Union side, and placing them where they would 
be but for the measure he condemns. If he cannot 
face his case so stated, it is only because he cannot 
face the truth.' ' 

I add a word which was not in the verbal con- 
versation. In telling this tale I attempt no compli- 
ment to my own sagacity. I claim not to have con- 
trolled events, but confess plainly that events have 
controlled me. Now, at the end of three years' 
struggle, the nation's condition is not what either 
party, or any man, devised or expected. God alone 


can claim it. Whither it is tending seems plain. If 
God now wills the removal of a great wrong, and 
wills also that we of the North, as well as you of 
the South, shall pay fairly for our complicity in 
that wrong, impartial history will find therein new 
cause to attest and revere the justice and goodness 
of God. 

Yours truly, 

A. Lincoln 


timntixt fjjnnjsijon. 

/0^ /?&£> j~sfc&J ^?~ e ^ / * ^r^^. 

fy-i^Ctr ^*Cc-W ^CDk~4J /*^r& /-&Z, 

A newly discovered letter, not included in any of 

the standard collections, in which Lincoln urges 

that Sherman keep the enemy "going," while he is 

on the "down-hill." 

the wolfs dictionary has been repudiated" 



1NCOLN frequently was entreated to speak at Sanitary 
Fairs, which resembled modern Red Cross Benefits. The speech 
he delivered at Baltimore was not, when considered as a whole, 
one of his best, but reflects in many passages the flash of his 

APRIL 18, 1864 



Calling to mind that we are in Balti- 
more, we cannot fail to note that the world moves. 
Looking upon these many people assembled here 
to serve, as they best may, the soldiers of the 
Union, it occurs at once that three years ago the 
same soldiers could not so much as pass through 
Baltimore. The change from then till now is both 
great and gratifying. Blessings on the brave men 
who have wrought the change, and the fair women 
who strive to reward them for it! 


But Baltimore suggests more than could happen 
within Baltimore. The change within Baltimore is 
part only of a far wider change. When the war be- 
gan, three years ago, neither party, nor any man, 
expected it would last till now. Each looked for 
the end, in some way, long ere to-day. Neither did 
any anticipate that domestic slavery would be 
much affected by the war. But here we are; the 
war has not ended, and slavery has been much af- 
fected—how much needs not now to be recounted. 
So true is it that man proposes and God disposes. 

But we can see the past, though we may not 
claim to have directed it; and seeing it, in this case, 
we feel more hopeful and confident for the future. 

The world has never had a good definition of 
the word liberty, and the American people, just 
now, are much in want of one. We all declare for 
liberty; but in using the same word we do not all 
mean the same thing. With some the word liberty 
may mean for each man to do as he pleases with 
himself, and the product of his labor; while with 
others the same word may mean for some men 
to do as they please with other men, and the prod- 
uct of other men's labor. Here are two, not only 
different, but incompatible things, called by the 
same name, liberty. And it follows that each of the 


things is, by the respective parties, called by two 
different and incompatible names— liberty and 

The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep's 
throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd 
as his liberator, while the wolf denounces him for 
the same act, as the destroyer of liberty, especially 
as the sheep was a black one. Plainly, the sheep 
and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of 
the word liberty; and precisely the same difference 
prevails to-day among us human creatures, even in 
the North, and all professing to love liberty. 
Hence we behold the process by which thousands 
are daily passing from under the yoke of bondage 
hailed by some as the advance of liberty, and be- 
wailed by others as the destruction of all liberty. 
Recently, as it seems, the people of Maryland have 
been doing something to define liberty, and thanks 
to them that, in what they have done, the wolf's 
dictionary has been repudiated. 

It is not very becoming for one in my position 
to make speeches at great length; but there is an- 
other subject upon which I feel that I ought to 
say a word. 

A painful rumor— true, I fear— has reached us 
of the massacre by the rebel forces at Fort Pillow, 


in the west end or Tennessee, on the Mississippi 
River, of some three hundred colored soldiers and 
white officers, who had just been overpowered by 
their assailants. There seems to be some anxiety 
in the public mind whether the government is do- 
ing its duty to the colored soldier, and to the serv- 
ice, at this point. At the beginning of the war, and 
for some time, the use of colored troops was not 
contemplated; and how the change of purpose was 
wrought I will not now take time to explain. Upon 
a clear conviction of duty I resolved to turn that 
element of strength to account; and I am responsi- 
ble for it to the American people, to the Christian 
world, to history, and in my final account to God. 
Having determined to use the negro as a soldier, 
there is no way but to give him all the protection 
given to any other soldier. The difficulty is not in 
stating the principle, but in practically applying it. 
It is a mistake to suppose the government is indif- 
ferent to this matter, or is not doing the best it can 
in regard to it. We do not to-day know that a col- 
ored soldier, or white officer commanding colored 
soldiers, has been massacred by the rebels when 
made a prisoner. We fear it,— believe it, I may 
say,— but we do not know it. To take the life of 
one of their prisoners on the assumption that they 


murder ours, when it is short of certainty that they 
do murder ours, might be too serious, too cruel, a 
mistake. We are having the Fort Pillow affair thor- 
oughly investigated; and such investigation will 
probably show conclusively how the truth is. If 
after all that has been said it shall turn out that 
there has been no massacre at Fort Pillow, it will 
be almost safe to say there has been none, and will 
be none, elsewhere. If there has been the massacre 
of three hundred there, or even the tenth part of 
three hundred, it will be conclusively proved; and 
being so proved, the retribution shall as surely 
come. It will be matter of grave consideration in 
what exact course to apply the retribution; but in 
the supposed case it must come. 



". . . with a brave army and a just cause. 



'INCOLN, keenly understanding the psychology of his 
generals, knew just when to maintain a close surveillance and 
when, as in this case of General Grant, to invest them with 
complete authority. 


Executive Mansion 
Washington, April 30, 1864 



Not expecting to see you again before 
the Spring campaign opens, I wish to express, in 
this way, my entire satisfaction with what you have 
done up to this time, so far as I understand it. The 
particulars of your plans I neither know, or seek to 
know. You are vigilant and self-reliant, and, 
pleased with this, I wish not to obtrude any con- 
straints or restraints upon you. While I am very 


anxious that any great disaster, or the capture of 
our men in great numbers, shall be avoided, I 
know these points are less likely to escape your at- 
tention than they would be mine— If there is any- 
thing wanting which is within my power to give, 
do not fail to let me know it. 

And now with a brave army, and a just cause, 
may God sustain you. 

Yours very truly, 

A. Lincoln 



'. . . \nowing of your weakness for oddities. 



1TTLE suspecting that his own signature might some day 
prove to be of greater value, Lincoln sends along a "John 
Quincy Adams" autograph to the Secretary of War. 


June 14, 1864 


Finding the above signature of Adams 
in an obscure place in the Mansion this morning 
and knowing of your weakness for oddities, I am 
sending it to you, hold on to it.— 

It will no doubt be much more valuable some 


A. Lincoln 


notwithstanding any newspaper assaults" 



N the matter of granting pardons Lincoln was lenient to a 
degree that, it was feared, would affect the discipline of the 
army; but his firmness could not be shaken in cases where he 
felt no mercy was due. 


Executive Mansion, June 27, 1864 

Yours of the twenty-fifth has just been 
handed me by the Secretary of the Navy. The tone 
of the letter, rather than any direct statement in it, 
impresses me as a complaint that Mr. Henderson 
should have been removed from office, and ar- 
rested; coupled with the single suggestion that he 
be restored if he shall establish his innocence. 

I know absolutely nothing of the case except as 
follows: Monday last, Mr. Welles came to me with 


the letter of dismissal already written, saying he 
thought proper to show it to me before sending it, 
I asked him the charges, which he stated in a gen- 
eral way. With as much emphasis as I could, I said: 
"Are you entirely certain of his guilt?" He an- 
swered that he was, to which I replied: "Then 
send the letter." 

Whether Mr. Henderson was a supporter of my 
second nomination, I neither knew nor inquired, 
nor even thought of. I shall be very glad indeed if 
he shall, as you anticipate, establish his innocence; 
or, to state it more strongly and properly, "if the 
government shall fail to establish his guilt." I be- 
lieve, however, the man who made the affidavit 
was of as spotless reputation as Mr. Henderson, 
until he was arrested on what his friends insist was 
outrageously insufficient evidence. I know the en- 
tire city government of Washington, with many 
other respectable citizens, appealed to me in his be- 
half as a greatly injured gentleman. 

While the subject is up, may I ask whether the 
"Evening Post" has not assailed me for supposed 
too lenient dealing with persons charged with 
fraud and crime? And that in cases of which the 
"Post" could know but little of the facts? I shall 
certainly deal as leniently with Mr. Henderson as 


I have felt it my duty to deal with others, notwith- 
standing any newspaper assaults. 

Your obedient servant, 

A. Lincoln 



*\ . . a point of mutual embarrassment. . . ." 


JL HREE times Salmon P. Chase had resigned as Secretary of 
the Treasury; three times a patient Lincoln had persuaded 
him to reconsider; but when Chase handed in his resignation 
for the fourth time, Lincoln decided it was time to "call quits'* 


Executive Mansion, June 30, 1864 

Your resignation of the office of Sec- 
retary of the Treasury sent me yesterday is ac- 
cepted. Of all I have said in commendation of your 
ability and fidelity I have nothing to unsay; and 
yet you and I have reached a point of mutual em- 
barrassment in our official relations which it seems 
cannot be overcome or longer sustained consist- 
ently with the public service. 

Your obedient servant, 

A. Lincoln 


'X propose continuing myself to be the judge, 



HEN General Halleck, Chief of Staff, virtually de- 
manded the dismissal of Postmaster-General Blair, Lincoln 
refused, saying, "I propose continuing myself to be the judge 
as to when a member of the Cabinet shall be dismissed/' Two 
months later, seeing that the breach between his Cabinet mem- 
bers could never be healed, Lincoln asked for Blair's resig- 


Executive Mansion, July 14, 1864 



Your note of to-day inclosing General 
Halleck's letter of yesterday relative to offensive 
remarks supposed to have been made by the Post- 
master-General concerning the military officers on 
duty about Washington is received. The general's 
letter in substance demands of me that if I approve 


the remarks I shall strike the names of those of- 
ficers from the rolls; and that if I do not approve 
them the Postmaster-General shall be dismissed 
from the Cabinet. 

Whether the remarks were really made I do not 
know, nor do I suppose such knowledge is neces- 
sary to a correct response. If they were made, I do 
not approve them; and yet, under the circum- 
stances, I would not dismiss a member of the Cabi- 
net therefor. I do not consider what may have been 
hastily said in a moment of vexation at so severe 
a loss is sufficient ground for so grave a step. Be- 
sides this, truth is generally the best vindication 
against slander. I propose continuing to be myself 
the judge as to when a member of the Cabinet 
shall be dismissed. 

Yours truly, 

A. Lincoln 



'Hold on with a bull-dog grip. . . ." 


HEN a number of State Governors had appealed to Gen- 
eral Grant to release troops to suppress draft uprisings, Grant 
flatly refused to weaken his lines and was strongly backed in 
his decision by the Commander-in-Chief. 


Executive Mansion, Washington, D. C. 
August 17, 1864, 10:30 A.M. 

Point, Va.: 


I have seen your despatch expressing 
your unwillingness to break your hold where you 
are. Neither am I willing. Hold on with a bull- 
dog grip, and chew and choke as much as possible. 

A. Lincoln 



Secret Pledge 

FTER his reelection Lincoln drew from his desk drawer 
this sealed memorandum, which he had asked his Cabinet 
members to sign, unseen, several months before. 


Executive Mansion 
Washington, August 23, 1864 

THIS morning, as for some days past, it 
seems exceedingly probable that this ad- 
ministration will not be reelected. Then it will be 
my duty to so cooperate with the President-elect 
as to save the Union between the election and the 
inauguration; as he will have secured his election 
on such ground that he cannot possibly save it 

A. Lincoln 


". . . inflammatory appeals to your passions 

and your prejudices" 


INCOLN addresses a few words of caution to an Ohio 
regiment, returning home long after their original 3-months 
term of enlistment had expired. 

AUGUST 31, 1864 

I am most happy to meet you on this oc- 
casion. I understand that it has been your honor- 
able privilege to stand, for a brief period, in the 
defense of your country, and that now you are on 
your way to your homes. I congratulate you, and 
those who are waiting to bid you welcome home 
from the war; and permit me in the name of the 
people to thank you for the part you have taken in 
this struggle for the life of the nation. You are 
soldiers of the republic, everywhere honored and 


respected. Whenever I appear before a body of sol- 
diers I feel tempted to talk to them of the nature 
of the struggle in which we are engaged. I look 
upon it as an attempt on the one hand to over- 
whelm and destroy the national existence, while 
on our part we are striving to maintain the gov- 
ernment and institutions of our fathers, to enjoy 
them ourselves, and transmit them to our children 
and our children's children forever. 

To do this the constitutional administration of 
our government must be sustained, and I beg of 
you not to allow your minds or your hearts to be 
diverted from the support of all necessary meas- 
ures for that purpose, by any miserable picayune 
arguments addressed to your pockets, or inflamma- 
tory appeals made to your passions and your preju- 

It is vain and foolish to arraign this man or that 
for the part he has taken or has not taken, and to 
hold the government responsible for his acts. In 
no administration can there be perfect equality of 
action and uniform satisfaction rendered by all. 

But this government must be preserved in spite 
of the acts of any man or set of men. It is worthy 
of your every effort. Nowhere in the world is pre- 
sented a government of so much liberty and 


equality. To the humblest and poorest amongst us 
are held out the highest privileges and positions. 
The present moment finds me at the White House, 
yet there is as good a chance for your children as 
there was for my father's. 

Again I admonish you not to be turned from 
your stern purpose of defending our beloved coun- 
try and its free institutions by any arguments 
urged by ambitious and designing men, but to 
stand fast for the Union and the old flag. 

Soldiers, I bid you God-speed to your homes. 



opposed to both war and oppression. . . .' 


.ECOGNIZING the "hard dilemma'* which confronts the 
Quakers by reason of their faith, Lincoln points out that "they 
can only practically oppose oppression by war." 


- Executive Mansion, September 4, 1864 

I have not forgotten— probably never 
shall forget— the very impressive occasion when 
yourself and friends visited me on a Sabbath fore- 
noon two years ago. Nor has your kind letter, writ- 
ten nearly a year later, ever been forgotten. In all it 
has been your purpose to strengthen my reliance 
on God. I am much indebted to the good Christian 
people of the country for their constant prayers 
and consolations; and to no one of them more than 
to yourself. The purposes of the Almighty are 


perfect, and must prevail, though we erring mor- 
tals may fail to accurately perceive them in ad- 
vance. We hoped for a happy termination of this 
terrible war long before this; but God knows best, 
and has ruled otherwise. We shall yet acknowledge 
his wisdom, and our own error therein. Mean- 
while we must work earnestly in the best lights he 
gives us, trusting that so working still conduces 
to the great ends he ordains. Surely he intends 
some great good to follow this mighty convulsion, 
which no mortal could make, and no mortal could 
stay. Your people, the Friends, have had, and are 
having, a very great trial. On principle and faith 
opposed to both war and oppression, they can only 
practically oppose oppression by war. In this hard 
dilemma some have chosen one horn, and some 
the other. For those appealing to me on conscien- 
tious grounds, I have done, and shall do, the best I 
could and can, in my own conscience, under my 
oath to the law. That you believe this I doubt 
not; and, believing it, I shall still receive for our 
country and myself your earnest prayers to our 
Father in heaven. 

Your sincere friend, 

A. Lincoln 



"The time has come" 



AVING decided that a Cabinet-split can be avoided in 
no other way, Lincoln assumes the unpleasant task of asking 
for the resignation of his friend Montgomery Blair. 


Executive Mansion, September 23, 1864 

You have generously said to me more 
than once that whenever your resignation could 
be a relief to me it was at my disposal. The time 
has come. You very well know that this proceeds 
from no dissatisfaction of mine with you person- 
ally or officially. Your uniform kindness has been 
unsurpassed by that of any friend; and while it is 
true that the war does not so greatly add to the 
difficulties of your department as to those of some 


others, it is yet much to say, as I most truly can, 
that in the three years and a half during which 
you have administered the general post-office, I 
remember no single complaint against you in con- 
nection therewith. 


A. Lincoln 



". . . whether any government not too strong 
for the liberties of its people. . . ." 


PEAKING to a cheering crowd after his victorious reelection, 
Lincoln put his finger on a principle which is both the strength 
and weakness of a Democracy. 

NOVEMBER 10, 1864 

IT has long been a grave question whether any 
government, not too strong for the liberties 
of its people, can be strong enough to maintain its 
existence in great emergencies. On this point the 
present rebellion brought our republic to a severe 
test, and a presidential election occurring in reg- 
ular course during the rebellion, added not a little 
to the strain. 

If the loyal people united were put to the ut- 
most of their strength by the rebellion, must they 
not fail when divided and partially paralyzed by a 


political war among themselves? But the election 
was a necessity. We cannot have free government 
without elections; and if the rebellion could force 
us to forego or postpone a national election, it 
might fairly claim to have already conquered and 
ruined us. The strife of the election is but human 
nature practically applied to the facts of the case. 
What has occurred in this case must ever recur in 
similar cases. Human nature will not change. In 
any future great national trial, compared with the 
men of this, we shall have as weak and as strong, 
as silly and as wise, as bad and as good. Let us, 
therefore, study the incidents of this as philosophy 
to learn wisdom from, and none of them as wrongs 
to be revenged. But the election, along with its in- 
cidental and undesirable strife, has done good too. 
It has demonstrated that a people's government 
can sustain a national election in the midst of a 
great civil war. Until now, it has not been known 
to the world that this was a possibility. It shows, 
also, how sound and how strong we still are. It 
shows that, even among candidates of the same 
party, he who is most devoted to the Union and 
most opposed to treason can receive most of the 
people's votes. It shows, also, to the extent yet 
known, that we have more men now than we had 


when the war began. Gold is good in its place, but 
living, brave, patriotic men are better than gold. 

But the rebellion continues, and now that the 
election is over, may not all having a common in- 
terest reunite in a common effort to save our com- 
mon country? For my own part, I have striven and 
shall strive to avoid placing any obstacle in the 
way. So long as I have been here I have not will- 
ingly planted a thorn in any man's bosom. While 
I am deeply sensible to the high compliment of a 
reelection, and duly grateful, as I trust, to Al- 
mighty God for having directed my countrymen 
to a right conclusion, as I think, for their own 
good, it adds nothing to my satisfaction that any 
other man may be disappointed or pained by the 

May I ask those who have not differed from me 
to join with me in this same spirit toward those 
who have? And now let me close by asking three 
hearty cheers for our brave soldiers and seamen 
and their gallant and skilful commanders. 



Lincoln s Letter to Mrs. Bixby 



EW will disagree with George S. Boutwell, delegate to 
the Convention that nominated Lincoln, and Congressman in 
the most critical years of the war, who said, "All history and 
all literature may be searched and in vain, for a funeral tribute 
so touching, so comprehensive, so fortunate in expression as 


Executive Mansion 
November 2 1,1864 



I have been shown in the files of the 
War Department a statement of the Adjutant- 
General of Massachusetts that you are the mother 
of five sons who have died gloriously on the field 
of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be 
any word of mine which should attempt to be- 


guile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. 
But I cannot refrain from tendering you the conso- 
lation that may be found in the thanks of the Re- 
public they died to save. I pray that our heavenly 
Father may assuage the anguish of your bereave- 
ment, and leave you only the cherished memory of 
the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must 
be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the 
altar of freedom. 

Yours very sincerely and respectfully, 

Abraham Lincoln 



the incident at the polls. 



HE President thanks Deacon Phillips of Sturbridge, Massa- 
chusetts, not only for casting his vote for him, but for having 
exercised his right of suffrage at every Presidential election since 
the country was founded. 


Executive Mansion, November 21, 1864 

I have heard of the incident at the 
polls in your town, in which you acted so hon- 
orable a part, and I take the liberty of writing to 
you to express my personal gratitude for the com- 
pliment paid me by the suffrage of a citizen so 

The example of such devotion to civic duties 
in one whose days have already been extended an 
average lifetime beyond the Psalmist's limit, can- 


not but be valuable and fruitful. It is not for 
myself only, but for the country which you have 
in your sphere served so long and so well, that I 
thank you. 

Your friend and servant, 

Abraham Lincoln 



when I have nothing to tal\ about. 


'INCOLN adheres to his lifelong principle of wasting 
neither his own words nor his listeners* time. 

DECEMBER 6, 1864 



I believe I shall never be old enough to 
speak without embarrassment when I have noth- 
ing to talk about. I have no good news to tell you, 
and yet I have no bad news to tell. We have talked 
of elections until there is nothing more to say 
about them. The most interesting news we now 
have is from Sherman. We all know where he 
went in, but I can't tell where he will come out. 
I will now close by proposing three cheers for 
General Sherman and his army. 



'. . . than\s for your Christmas gift, . . ." 



INCOLN thanks General Sherman for his Christmas gift 
—the capture of Savannah— making sure to reserve none of the 
credit for himself. 

Executive Mansion, December 26, 1864 

Many, many thanks for your Christ- 
mas gift, the capture of Savannah. 

When you were about leaving Atlanta for the 
Atlantic coast, I was anxious, if not fearful; but 
feeling that you were the better judge, and re- 
membering that "nothing risked, nothing gained/' 
I did not interfere. Now, the undertaking being 
a success, the honor is all yours; for I believe none 
of us went further than to acquiesce. 

And taking the work of General Thomas into 


the count, as it should be taken, it is indeed a 
great success. Not only does it afford the obvious 
and immediate military advantages; but in show- 
ing to the world that your army could be divided, 
putting the stronger part to an important new 
service, and yet leaving enough to vanquish the 
old opposing force of the whole,— Hood's army,— 
it brings those who sat in darkness to see a great 
light. But what next? 

I suppose it will be safe if I leave General Grant 
and yourself to decide. 

Please make my grateful acknowledgments to 
your whole army— officers and men. 

Yours very truly, 

A. Lincoln 


'. . . get a good ready. . . ." 

OEEING the end drawing near, Lincoln hopes that General 
Sherman will keep the enemy "going." 


Executive Mansion 
Washington, Jan. 5, 1865 


Since parting with you, it has occurred 
to me to say that while Gen. Sherman's "get a 
good ready" is appreciated, and is not to be over- 
looked, time, now that the enemy is wavering, is 
more important than ever before. Being on the 
down-hill, somewhat confirms keeping him going. 
Please say so much to Gen. S. 

Yours truly, 

A. Lincoln 


'. . . as though I was not President. . . .' 



.HIS letter to General Grant was written upon one of the 
extremely rare occasions when Lincoln sought a personal favor 
for himself. As was the case with so many of Lincoln's writings, 
it was flawless in sentiment, if not in syntax. 


Executive Mansion, January 19, 1865 

-i Please read and answer this letter as 

though I was not President, but only a friend. My 
son, now in his twenty-second year, having gradu- 
ated at Harvard, wishes to see something of the 
war before it ends. I do not wish to put him in 
the ranks, nor yet to give him a commission, to 
which those who have already served long are bet- 
ter entitled and better qualified to hold. Could 
he, without embarrassment to you or detriment to 


the service, go into your military family with some 
nominal rank, I, and not the public, furnishing 
his necessary means? If no, say so without the least 
hesitation, because I am as anxious and as deeply 
interested that you shall not be encumbered as 
you can be yourself. 

Yours truly, 

A. Lincoln 



". . . with a distrust of my own ability. 



INCOLN responds, with his usual diffidence, to the Com- 
mittee informing him of the result of the Electoral count. 

FEBRUARY 9, 1865* 

WITH deep gratitude to my countrymen 
for this mark of their confidence; with 
a distrust of my own ability to perform the duty 
required under the most favorable circumstances, 
and now rendered doubly difficult by existing na- 
tional perils; yet with a firm reliance on the 
strength of our free government, and the eventual 
loyalty of the people to the just principles, upon 
which it is founded, and above all with an un- 
shaken faith in the Supreme Ruler of nations, I 
accept this trust. Be pleased to signify this to the 
respective Houses of Congress. 

* Although the letter hears this date in many standard collections, Paul M. 
Angle has uncovered evidence which incontrovertibly establishes the date as 
February 26, 1861— at the time of Lincoln's first election. 



With malice toward none. . . 



ORD CURZON, Chancellor of the University of Oxford, 
named as the "three supreme masterpieces of English Elo- 
quence" the Toast of William Pitt after the Victory of Trafal- 
gar, Lincoln y s Gettysburg Speech, and Lincoln's Second 
Inaugural Address. Dr. Louis A. Warren interestingly observes 
that "One-third of the entire address, or to be exact, 267 of 
the 702 words were direct quotations from the Bible and words 
of application made to them." 

MARCH 4, 1865 

At this second appearing to take the 
oath of the presidential office, there is less occasion 
for an extended address than there was at the first. 
Then a statement, somewhat in detail, of a course 
to be pursued, seemed fitting and proper. Now, at 
the expiration of four years, during which public 


declarations have been constantly called forth on 
every point and phase of the great contest which 
still absorbs the attention and engrosses the ener- 
gies of the nation, little that is new could be pre- 
sented. The progress of our arms, upon which all 
else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public 
as to myself; and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfac- 
tory and encouraging to all. With high hope for 
the future, no prediction in regard to it is ven- 

On the occasion corresponding to this four 
years ago, all thoughts were anxiously directed to 
an impending civil war. All dreaded it— all sought 
to avert it. While the inaugural address was being 
delivered from this place, devoted altogether to 
saving the Union without war, insurgent agents 
were in the city seeking to destroy it without war 
—seeking to dissolve the Union, and divide effects, 
by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war; but 
one of them would make war rather than let the 
nation survive; and the other would accept war 
rather than let it perish. And the war came. 

One-eighth of the whole population were col- 
ored slaves, not distributed generally over the 
Union, but localized in the Southern part of it. 
These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful 


interest. All knew that this interest was, somehow, 
the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, 
and extend this interest was the object for which 
the insurgents would rend the Union, even by 
war; while the government claimed no right to 
do more than to restrict the territorial enlarge- 
ment of it. 

Neither party expected for the war the magni- 
tude or the duration which it has already attained. 
Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict 
might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself 
should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, 
and a result less fundamental and astounding. 
Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same 
God; and each invokes his aid against the other. 
It may seem strange that any men should dare to 
ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread 
from the sweat of other men's faces; but let us 
judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of 
both could not be answered— that of neither has 
been answered fully. 

The Almighty has his own purposes. "Woe unto 
the world because of offenses! for it must needs 
be that offenses come; but woe to that man by 
whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose 
that American slavery is one of those offenses 


which, in the providence of God, must needs come, 
but which, having continued through his ap- 
pointed time, he now wills to remove, and that 
he gives to both North and South this terrible war, 
as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, 
shall we discern therein any departure from those 
divine attributes which the believers in a living 
God always ascribe to him? Fondly do we hope- 
fervently do we pray— that this mighty scourge of 
war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that 
it continue until all the wealth piled by the bond- 
man's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited 
toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood 
drawn with the lash shall be paid by another 
drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand 
years ago, so still it must be said, "The judgments 
of the Lord are true and righteous altogether." 
With malice toward none; with charity for all; 
with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see 
the right, let us strive on to finish the work we 
are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care 
for him who shall have borne the battle, and for 
his widow, and his orphan— to do all which may 
achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among 
ourselves, and with all nations. 



"It is a truth which I thought needed to he told. . 


EW letters give a better insight into the mind and soul of 
Lincoln than this short classic, written to Thurlow Weed, who 
had complimented the President upon his Second Inaugural 


Executive Mansion, March 15, 1865 

Every one likes a compliment. Thank 
you for yours on my little notification speech and 
on the recent inaugural address. I expect the latter 
to wear as well as— perhaps better than— anything 
I have produced; but I believe it is not imme- 
diately popular. Men are not flattered by being 
shown that there has been a difference of purpose 
between the Almighty and them. To deny it, how- 


ever, in this case, is to deny that there is a God 
governing the world. It is a truth which I thought 
needed to be told, and, as whatever of humiliation 
there is in it falls most directly on myself, I thought 
others might afford for me to tell it. 

Truly yours, 

A. Lincoln 



"Let the thing be pressed." 



N a telegram that is almost epigrammatic, Lincoln urges 
General Grant to make "the final effort." 


Headquarters Armies of the U. S., 
City Point, April 7, 1865, 11 A.M. 

Ji Gen. Sheridan says "If the thing is 

pressed I think that Lee will surrender." Let the 
thing be pressed. 

A. Lincoln 



"The President's last, shortest, and best speech.' 


NE day in December of 1864 Lincoln handed a sheet of 
paper to newspaper correspondent Noah Brooks. On it was 
written the following message, with the heading heavily un- 

The President's last, shortest, and best speech 

ON Thursday of last week two ladies from 
Tennessee came before the President ask- 
ing the release of their husbands held as prisoners 
of war at Johnson's Island— They were put off till 
Friday, when they came again; and were again 
put off to Saturday— At each of the interviews 
one of the ladies urged that her husband was a 
religious man— On Saturday the President or- 
dered the release of the prisoners, and then said 
to this lady "You say your husband is a religious 
man; tell him when you meet him, that I say I am 
not much of a judge of religion, but that, in my 


opinion, the religion that sets men to rebel and 
fight against their government, because, as they 
think, that government does not sufficiently help 
some men to eat their bread in the sweat of other 
men's faces, is not the sort of religion upon which 
people can get to heaven!" 

A. Lincoln 


As postmaster, country lawyer, legislator, and 
president, in his darkest hour just as in his 
brightest, Lincoln never permitted his sense of 
humor to desert him. His witty testimonial for 
Professor Gardner's soap, his "whiskers" letter 
to little Grace Bedell, and many others are in- 
stinct with earthy, human laughter. At times, 
too, he sounds a sharper, satirical note, as in his 
"rat-hole" letter to a New York firm. The reader 
will find these delightful letters and many more 
assembled in this volume. 

All Americans will welcome the appearance 
of this collection of briefer letters and speeches. 
Its compiler, H. Jack Lang, has sifted treasuries 
of Lincolniana in every corner of the United 
States in order to gather choice, fresh material, 
some of which has never hitherto been published 
in any standard volume of Lincoln's writings. 

Cover drawing by 
William P. Welsh 

Courtesy of 
Lincoln National Life Insurance Co. 

67 West 44th Street New York 


Edited by Francis Kalnay 
Associate Editor Richard Collins 

THHIS book answers practically every ques- 
-■- tion the alien, the refugee, or the new citi- 
zen may ask about his status or welfare in this 
country. It brings together information now 
scattered through hundreds of government 
publications, statute books and other sources, 
and clears a path through the jungle of our 
laws and institutions. 

It presents facts hitherto hard to find and 
harder to verify, concerning his rights and 
obligations, his opportunities and limitations. 
It reduces to simple terms complicated legal 
information so that even a beginner in 
English may easily understand the informa- 
tion it presents. 

Besides the subjects noted on the front of 
this jacket, the book contains a wealth of data 

Marriage, divorce, military training and service, quali- 
fications for voting in various states, immigration, 
loans, the Constitution, American institutions, educa- 
tion, immigrant aid organizations, foreign language 
organizations and press, educational requirements for 
citizenship, legal aid societies, loss of citizenship, 
registration of aliens, unemployment insurance, alien 
rights and restrictions, etc., etc. 

Here is a volume that should prove helpful 
not only to the new American, himself, but 
to librarians, social workers, teachers, govern- 
ment agencies, editors — everyone who deals 
with problems of the foreign-born. 

67 West 44th St. New York City